Scientists have tested how the rover can cross the difficult surface of Mars in a simulator.
Rover ExoMars, which is being tested in a ground-based terrain simulator on Mars, managed to easily get out of the sand trap. The training video was shown by the European Space Agency (ESA).
The rover has two front wheels. When the rover rolls on the sand, they are almost completely buried in it, but they still get out of the trap thanks to the unique movement mode. It takes about 20 minutes for the rover to traverse the difficult 2 meter section. ESA engineers note that it is precisely slow and careful action that is the key to getting out of a difficult situation.
Mars rovers on Mars used to get stuck in the sand, and the spinning wheels buried them deeper, just like a car that got stuck in mud or snow. To avoid this, the Rosalind Franklin ExoMars rover (and its simulator test counterpart) has a unique travel mode, Walking on Wheels. It combines the movement of the deployment actuators (legs) with the rotation of the wheels. This system provides good traction on soft soils and high slopes.
In a test drive, ESA engineers tested the new travel system. The test drive was successful. The work took place in a terrain simulator on Mars at the Mars Rover Operations Control Center in the ALTEC territory, at the Thales Alenia Space facilities in Turin, Italy, in November 2021. It is from here that scientific operations of the rover will be carried out after the rover landed on Mars in June 2023. So far, the facility is used to train rover operators and simulate scientific operations that will be performed as part of the main mission.