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Russia to create new landing platform for Mars exploration program

August 04, 2014, 18:41 UTC+3 MOSCOW

Stage One of the ExoMars project includes a European orbiting module and a dropship

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©  NASA/JPL-Caltech

MOSCOW, August 04. /ITAR-TASS/. Russian specialists will create a new landing platform and several unique scientific instruments for ExoMars-2018, a joint exploration mission with their European colleagues, a space official said on Monday.

“Under the current agreements, Russia will not only provide launch vehicles and some scientific instruments, but it will also create a landing module for the ExoMars-2018 mission,” Daniil Rodionov of the Space Research Institute, who is also the Russian manager of the joint project, said at the 40th COSPAR Scientific Assembly underway in Moscow on August 2-10.

A dropship being created by the Lavochkin Production Association, will deliver the Russian landing platform and a European 300-kg Mars rover to the planet.

Stage One of the ExoMars project includes a European orbiting module and a dropship. The orbiting craft TGO (Trade Gas Orbiter) is intended for studying trace gas in the atmosphere and the distribution of water ice in Mars’ soil.

The Space Research Institute is making two instruments for the TGO. One is intended for studying the chemical composition of Mars’ atmosphere and climate; the other one for chartering high spatial resolution maps showing the distribution of water ice in the upper layers of the planet’s soil and radiation monitoring equipment.

The institute will hand over the instruments to the European Space Agency at the end of the year. After the rover with the Russian instruments rolls off the landing platform, the latter will start monitoring daily, seasonal and yearly processes on the planet’s surface. It is designed to operate for one Martian year (approximately 1.8 Earth years).

Russia has also come closer than other countries to launching sustainable long-term manned space missions, Vladimir Uiba, head of the Federal Medical and Biological Agency told ITAR-TASS.

“We expect positive results from experiments. Then we will be able to say whether or not we know how to provide for the vital life sustenance of cosmonauts during a long mission,” he said.

He said man would fly to Mars and beyond in the future, but “without experiments like those we are doing on Foton [satellite] no one can say how to provide sufficient supply of oxygen, food and so on for such a long flight”.

Uiba said no one in the world had such information, “neither the United States no China”. “We have come closer to the answer as our Fotons allow us to model life-support systems for people,” he said.

Deputy Director of the Institute of Biomedical Problems, Oleg Orlov, said a biosatellite, Bion-M j 2, would be orbited as part of the program in 2019. It will be followed by another one, Bion-M j 3, approximately in 2022. Also, Vozvrat-MKA spacecraft will be launched in 2021 and 2025.

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