Scientists have tested ExoMars parachutes after several transfers due to bad weather. The main parachute of the first stage with a width of 15 m worked flawlessly at supersonic speeds, and the parachute of the second stage with a width of 35 m received one minor damage but slowed down the layout of the landing platform.
The ExoMars mission of the European Space Agency and Roscosmos with the participation of the Rosalind Franklin rover and the Kazachok surface platform is scheduled for September 2022. After a nine-month interplanetary flight, the descent module with a rover and platform will be dropped into the Martian atmosphere at a speed of 21,000 km / h.
Correction and testing of ExoMars parachutes has been a priority for engineers after several unsuccessful tests in 2019 and 2020. The team refined the design by conducting a fast-revolving ground dynamic pull test last year. And to reduce the risks before conducting high-altitude tests, ESA ordered reserve parachutes from the American manufacturer Airborne Systems – the same company that supplied the parachute system for Perseverance.
The first test was aimed at checking the Airborne Systems’ reserve supersonic parachute. The second was carried out using a modified subsonic parachute and bag provided by the Italian company Arescosmo. Each test was designed to withstand the full load expected during entry into the atmosphere of Mars, descent, and landing.
“We are very pleased to announce that the main parachute has shown excellent results: we have a supersonic parachute that can fly to Mars,” said Thierry Blanquaert, team leader of the ExoMars program. He added that they will have several more attempts to “gain extra confidence.”