One small step for a robot: getting a robotic rover off its lander will be the next most nerve-wracking moment for Europe’s 2018 ExoMars mission after landing.
This week a simulation stretching between France and the Netherlands will let ESA’s Planetary Robotics Laboratory test such an ‘egress’ scenario.
A half-scale model resembling the ExoMars lander with a rover prototype resting upon it will sit somewhere in the sprawling outdoor Mars Yard in the Toulouse site of France’s CNES space agency, while its operators will be working from ESA’s ESTEC technical centre in Noordwijk, the Netherlands.
They will only be around a thousand kilometres away, rather than the upwards of 50 million km for the actual mission, but the ESTEC team – from ESA, Thales Alenia Space and Altec – will be receiving only limited information to guide them: still images and telemetry from the rover and lander. [More at link]