UK-built rover one step closer to Mars

A UK-built space rover is a step closer to reaching Mars after tests of the parachutes set to land the vehicle were successful.

The European Space Agency (ESA) ExoMars Rosalind Franklin rover, built by Airbus to detect life on Mars, is due for launch in September 2022.

The high altitude drop tests, which replicate conditions of low atmospheric pressure on Mars, follow several improvements to the parachute equipment after there were number of failed attempts last year.

“Mars has been an object of our fascination and speculation for all recorded history, but we know that missions to the Red Planet are no easy ride,” said Sue Horne, head of space exploration at the ESA. “A total of 20 probes, from countries and agencies around the world, have all had their share of crashing on their way to the Red Planet.

“They’ve crashed on take-off, crashed on landing, conked out of power.

“Parachute tests are vital in helping us get the technology exactly right and making sure that the Rosalind Franklin rover lifts off with the most advanced and reliable equipment possible.”

ExoMars programme team leader Francois Spoto, said: “Landing on Mars is extremely difficult, with no room for error. The latest test was a good step forward but is not yet the perfect outcome we are seeking. Therefore, we will use the extensive test data we have acquired to refine our approach, plan further tests and keep on track for our launch in September 2022.”

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