ExoMars is a joint endeavour between the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Russian Space Agency (Roscosmos), with the Italian Space Agency (ASI) playing a strong role as major contributor within the ESA State Members. ASI also developed a laser micro-reflector called INRRI (INstrument for landing-Roving laser Retroreflector Investigations) together with National Institute for Nuclear Physics (INFN). ExoMars is developed by a European industrial consortium led by Thales Alenia Space Italia and involving almost 134 space companies from ESA State members. Finmeccanica participates in the ExoMars mission also through Telespazio and the Airborne & Space Systems Division.
ExoMars is the first mission in ESA's Aurora exploration program, comprising two separate missions:
- the first mission, in 2016, will study Mars' atmosphere and demonstrate the feasibility of several critical technologies for atmospheric entry, descent and landing.
- the second mission in this program, in 2020, will include an autonomous rover, capable of taking soil samples down to a depth of two meters, and analysing their chemical, physical and biological properties.