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Status of the ESA ExoMars Rosalind Franklin Rover Mission

Presentation #201.09 in the session Future Missions, Instrumentations and Facilities - Part 1 (Oral Presentation)

Published onOct 23, 2023
Status of the ESA ExoMars Rosalind Franklin Rover Mission

ESA’s renewed Rosalind Franklin Mission (RFM) is scheduled for launch to Mars in 2028 and will address one of the most important scientific objectives of our time: to search for signs of life.

An advanced state of science and operations readiness was achieved for the 2022 launch opportunity, prior to cessation of ESA’s collaboration with Roscosmos. Now, the reconfigured and renewed Rosalind Franklin Mission entails development of a new European lander for delivery of Rosalind Franklin to Mars, and includes contribution of a launcher and other elements by NASA.

The landing site remains Oxia Planum and the revised mission timeline provides great opportunity for further detailed study of the site, by interpretation of orbital data, analogue lab- and field-work, and numerical simulations.

The ExoMars Rover Science Operations Working Group (RSOWG), chartered in 2019, continues at a sustainable pace to address specific needs serving to advance science readiness. The ‘Micro’ sub-group address topics regarding the spatial scale of the samples that will be extracted from down to 2m by the rover’s drill, their analogues, and plans for their analyses. Ongoing work regards a set of ‘Mission Reference Samples’ – a suite of analogue samples most relevant to the landing site and mission objectives, which are under characterization by ground models of the MicrOmega, RLS and MOMA instruments. Members of the ‘Macro’ sub-group continue geological interpretation of the landing site, and hold plans to refocus on the revised 2028 landing ellipse pattern.

Meanwhile, dedicated efforts are underway to maintain and revise as needed systems at the Rover Operations Control Centre (ROCC - Turin, Italy). A continued plan of testing and simulations is planned in the interim years at ROCC, providing opportunities to exercise Science and Control Team processes.

Finally, a special Science Knowledge Management Programme has been set up to support key expertise within the science and instrument teams, such that the valuable team knowledge and experience that has been already built may be retained and developed.

We report on the new Rosalind Franklin Mission scenario, and the science team activities that are both currently ongoing, and planned in the coming years, towards ramp-up to operational readiness for a 2028 launch.

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