The Strategist

Airbus wins ESA contract to develop Sample Fetch Mars Rover

06/18/2020 - 05:27

Airbus Defense and Space has won a new contract from the European Space Agency (ESA) to develop the Sample Fetch Rover, the corporation's press service said.

Airbus wins ESA contract to develop Sample Fetch Mars Rover
The program for the return of soil samples from Mars is being carried out jointly by NASA and ESA.

NASA's Perseverance rover will collect samples of the planet’s soil and rocks and leave them on its surface in small metal tubes. In 2026, the rover will be launched to collect them.

In 2028, the rover will collect samples for six months at an average speed of 200 meters per day. Test tubes - there will be 36 of them - will be placed in the Mars Ascent apparatus, which will put them into the orbit of Mars. An ESA-developed spaceship, Earth Return Orbiter, will collect samples from Mars orbit and return them to Earth.

A working group led by Airbus has already developed sophisticated algorithms for locating the tubes on the Martian surface. Now the team is working on a special robotic manipulator with a gripping unit.

As noted in the press release, unlike the six-wheeled all-terrain vehicle ExoMars Rosalind Franklin, the Sample Fetch Rover will only have four wheels. This design will make the rover easier and allow it to move faster than ExoMars, avoiding "sticking" to the surface.