OHB has been working for many years on Mars exploration studies and projects. It has worked on or is currently analyzing other studies and projects alongside ExoMars. In this connection, its tasks include such aspects as mission and trajectory analysis, subsystem responsibility and overall responsibility as the prime contractor. Selected missions starting with those currently in operation are described below:
A mission for returning samples extracted from Mars has been a long-standing goal and is currently the subject of joint activities between ESA and NASA. Over the last few years, ESA has been performing many preparatory studies for this highly complex and multi-part mission. OHB System has also been involved in these studies in different syndicates and with different tasks.
In 2011/12, ESA awarded contracts for industrial feasibility studies for three preparatory missions to two syndicates in each case:
- Mars Sample Return - Orbiter
- Mars Precision Lander
- Moons of Mars Sample Return
The main task of the Mars Sample Return Orbiter (MSRO) is to collect a container holding samples while in orbit around Mars and to return it to the earth. The container will be shot into orbit around Mars on board an ascent stage. After it has been captured, it will be placed in a capsule allowing it to withstand reentry into the earth’s atmosphere. The samples will then undergo careful analysis in laboratories on the earth. During this phase, the Orbiter will additionally operate as a data relay.
OHB is working on this study as a member of one of the syndicates and is responsible for designing and budgeting the structural, thermal and propulsion subsystems.
Mars Precision Lander (MarsPlay) is a mission comprising a carrier and a landing module made up of a platform and a rover. This mission is seeking to demonstrate a precise landing on Mars. OHB is working on this study as a member of one of the syndicates and is responsible for designing the carrier.
The Moons of Mars Sample Return (MMSR) study is exploring the possibility of returning samples taken from the Martian moon of Phobos. Here, OHB System is advising one of the syndicates on matters relating to designing and budgeting the structural, thermal and propulsion subsystems.
Currently, the overall Mars Sample Return (MSR) mission is scheduled for execution in the mid-2020s. The preparatory missions are to be implemented on a correspondingly earlier date.
Previous Mars activities entail preparations for Mars Sample Return and ExoMars as well as thermal analysis for Netlander and the mission analysis for the Next Mars Orbiter.