ExoMars is a scientific and technological programmeme initiated by the European Space Agency (ESA) for the exploration of Mars. The main scientific objective is to determine whether life once existed or still exists on the “red planet”. OHB is a member of the European industrial syndicate which has been selected to execute the mission.

The purposes of the ExoMars programme are to

  • study the biological environment on Mars’ surface and to search for any evidence of present or former life there,
  • ascertain any hazards which may be significant for a manned landing on the planet’s surface,
  • add to general knowledge of Mars.

In addition, different technologies are to be developed for ExoMars and will play an important role in future manned and unmanned missions.

These entail

  • landing heavy payloads on the planet’s surface
  • surface mobility

The ExoMars programme provides for two missions to Mars, one in 2016 and the other in 2020. The 2016 mission comprises a Mars orbiter and a landing module. The orbiter will be transporting the landing module to Mars. The main objective is to test the landing technology.

The orbiter will be studying the martian atmosphere in detail and also act as a data relay satellite for both missions.

A second mission will be launched in 2020 to land a fixed Russian station and a European rover with a mass of 350 kg on the surface of the planet.

The station and the rover will be transported to Mars on board a carrier. The scientific instruments fitted to the rover will take samples of the ground down to a depth of two meters and examine them to determine their mineralogical, organic and geochemical composition. The results will help to clarify the extremely interesting scientific question as to whether there is or ever has been any life on Mars and provide the basis for future Mars missions. The orbiter for the 2016 mission will collect the scientific data from the planet’s surface and relay it to the earth.

The technological objectives of the mission will establish the foundations for future Mars missions under an international exploration programme.

OHB System has been participating in ExoMars since the commencement of the industrial definition studies. The 2016 mission is currently performing with the TGO in a martian orbit, while the 2020 mission is entering Phase B. Within the European industrial syndicate, OHB System is co-prime and was responsible for developing the orbiter module for the 2016 mission, including the system responsibility for the propulsion system and the mechanical and thermal subsystem. OHB System is to act as prime for the carrier and several instruments of the Rover for the 2020 mission.