“After the success of the Rosetta mission, which saw Finmeccanica technologies land on a comet, today we bring our knowledge onto the Red Planet,” stated Finmeccanica Chief Executive Officer and General Manager Mauro Moretti, in occasion of the ExoMars probe launch, which took place today,14 March, at 10:31 AM from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
“With ExoMars begins a new chapter in mankind’s history, of which Finmeccanica is proud to be one of the main authors through Thales Alenia Space and the expertise within the company. Many of the technologies used in the programme come from our laboratories, including our sophisticated diamond-tipped drill, which in 2018 will start drilling into Martian soil to search for traces of life. Finmeccanica, with its 5,000 men and women who work in the space sector and more than a half billion invested in research and development, contributes significantly to Italy's technological progress,” concluded the CEO and GM.
ExoMars 2016 is composed of two elements, both developed by Thales Alenia Space: the TGO (Trace Gas Orbiter) and the EDM (Entry Descent Module), named Schiaparelli in honour of Giovanni Virginio Schiaparelli, one of the greatest Italian astronomers of the nineteenth century.
The TGO satellite will orbit around Mars 400 km from the surface in order to analyse the gas particles in the planet’s atmosphere. The gases may reveal traces of biological or geological activity in the planet's past. Once the EDM module lands on Mars’ surface, it will become operational for a short period of time and will be used as a technology demonstrator for the 2018 mission. The Airborne & Space Systems Division of Finmeccanica also contributed to this first mission with the AA-STR star tracker and photovoltaic power generators consisting of 17 metre long solar panels, as did Telespazio, which developed the Mission Control System, used to monitor and control the TGO.