14 March 2016 – After a decade of planning, prototyping, cooperation and through multiple alterations, the European Space Association (ESA) and Roscosmos, successfully set the beginning of the ExoMars mission with the launch of the Proton-M rocket. Although, this is the first part of a two part arrangement, this mission represents a long journey – an incredible exercise and opportunity to research a foreign world and its mysteries, but mostly, a method of safe and secure travel to Mars.
So, why is this so important? Basically, it’s all about the data and what it represents. ExoMars or “Exobiology on Mars” is supposed to analyze atmosphere trace gasses, the Martian environment and in the second part of the mission – study the exobiology and geochemistry of the planet. So what this means is that we’ll be able to learn more about its past, present and future – detect water-ice deposits, life on the planet, its geology and more. But actually, the mission’s target can be found somewhere else – this is the beginning of a new era for space exploration and transportation.
The answer can be found (and it is not a secret), in the Trace Gas Orbiter and the Schiaparelli landing module. The TGO will deliver the lander and then proceed to map the sources of gasses on Mars. During, the lander will gather valuable information about the atmosphere, environment and the natural occurrences and their causes. Together, they will provide valuable information about the safe landing locations, possible hazards, such as storms and weather changes and the orbiter will provide the additional navigation, needed for next missions, as well as for the second part of this one – the landing of the ExoMars Rover in 2018.
How is this going to change our world? Did you see the movie “The Martian”? These missions can actually make this film a reality and that is because of the infrastructures and knowledge, the agencies expect to build and gather in the next several years. Furthermore, this program is a part of a broader plan, which includes the return mission, scheduled for the 2020’s. Afterwards, it is just a question of time, work and research, for a manned mission to become a fact.
In the future, when someone gets into a space bus to Mars, they’ll have to think about this day and how it all happened.