The platform destined to land on the Red Planet as part of the next ExoMars mission being shipped to Europe for final assembly and testing.
Credit: Roscosmos

Europe’s ExoMars 2020 hardware is moving forward.

ExoMars is a joint endeavor between the European Space Agency (ESA) and Russia’s Roscosmos, with landing on the Red Planet set for 2021.

Essential to the undertaking is the “Kazachok” landing platform of the ExoMars 2020 mission, manufactured and assembled at Russia’s NPO Lavochkin.

Kazachok means “little Cossack.”

Testing of the hardware is taking place at TASinI, an Italian company. TASinI will carry out work on the final assembly and testing of the landing module.

Unpacking the platform that is destined to land on the Red Planet as part of the next ExoMars mission in Turin, Italy.
Credit: Thales Alenia Space

Lightning discharges?

While the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Rosalind Franklin rover explores its surroundings at the landing site, Oxia Planum, a Czech-made electromagnetic wave analyzer on the Kazachok platform will scan for electromagnetic frequencies that are typical of lightning discharges.

A magnetometer named MAIGRET, developed by Russia will incorporate the Czech Republic’s Wave Analyzer Module (WAM).

ExoMars electromagnetic sensor (structural model). Credit: Institute of Scientific Instruments CAS, Brno, Czechia–I. Vlcek

Researchers want to investigate the existence of lightning discharges on Mars by measuring fluctuations in the electromagnetic field within the range of audible frequencies. Other observations have shown that lightning exists on Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, but Mars is still unknown.

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

Platform duties

In addition to listening for lightning, the platform will also study the climate, atmosphere, radiation, and the possible presence of subsurface water ice in the landing site and surrounding areas.

The ExoMars 2020 mission is the second stage of the largest joint project of the Roscosmos State Corporation and ESA for the study of the surface and the subsurface layer of Mars in close proximity to the landing site, conducting geological research and searching for traces of the possible existence of life on the planet.

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