The ExoMars 2020 Rover Operations Control Center (ROCC).
Credit: Thales Alenia Space


The European Space Agency (ESA) has inaugurated the ExoMars 2020 Rover

Operations Control Center that will begin operating in July 2020 when the Mars mission lifts off for the interplanetary trip.

The Turin, Italy-based Rover Operations Control Center (ROCC) comprises several different systems and facilities:

  • Operations room, where all Rover operations are planned, managed and executed in conjunction with the program scientific team.
  • Mars Terrain Simulator which simulates the Martian terrain (in terms of both shape and composition) to support daily ground operations, perform functional testing of the ExoMars Rover Ground Terrain Model and reproduce the Rover’s surface mission to account for any contingencies.
  • Tilting platform: a structure measuring 8 x 8 meters that is used as a simulated surface to test mission scenarios using the Rover Ground Test Model.
  • Drilling and illumination system, which reproduces the soil drilling operations on Mars and simulates fluctuations in lighting conditions on Mars.

Artist’s impression of the ExoMars 2020 rover and Russia’s stationary surface platform in background.
ESA/ATG medialab

Russian booster sendoff

A Proton rocket will launch the spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan between July 26 and August 11, 2020. Arrival at Mars is on March 19, 2021.

The ExoMars mission will take a direct ballistic trajectory to Mars, followed by the Descent Module separating from the Carrier Module, entry into the Martian atmosphere and the landing of the Descent Module with the “Rosalind Franklin” Rover, weighing roughly two metric tons, on March 19, 2021.

The Russian-supplied Landing Platform is named “Kazachok.”

Europe’s ExoMars 2020 rover.
Credit: ESA



Search for life

Rosalind Franklin will then leave the landing platform and explore the planet, taking and analyzing soil samples to a depth of nearly 7 feet (2 meters), including a search for present or past life in these samples by its own lab.

ROCC was inaugurated May 30 by Thales Alenia Space, ALTEC (Aerospace Logistics Technology Engineering Company), the Italian space agency and the European Space Agency.

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