The assembly of the "Rosalind Franklin" rover is now complete ahead of its proposed mission to Mars in July next year.
The ExoMars rover, a project of the European Space Agency (ESA) whose production combined the work of British, European and Canadian scientists, has finally been assembled.
It will now be transferred from the Airbus factory in Stevenage to Toulouse in France for testing ahead of its proposed nine-month trip to the Red Planet in search of life.
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Named after Rosalind Elsie Franklin, a British scientist whose work was central to the discovery of the structure of DNA, scientists hope it will increase human understanding of Mars.
The six-wheeled robot is a part of the ESA’s ExoMars mission to assess the geological landscape of the planet, as well as its microscopic composition.
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Robert McCall’s mid-1970s prediction of NASA’s space shuttle building a modular space station is close to what finally happened, except that the real shuttles only flew one at a time.
Courtesy of NASA
Ed White photographed by Gemini 4 Commander Jim McDivitt. During the first of 66 orbits, they made an unsuccessful attempt to rendezvous with the spent upper stage of their Titan launch vehicle. On McDivitt’s advice, White waited one more orbit to recover from the effort of the failed rendezvous, and then exited the Gemini for his historic spacewalk on June 3, 1965.
Apollo 9 CM pilot Dave Scott emerges from the hatch, testing some of the spacesuit systems that will be used for lunar operations. The photo was taken from the hatch of the docked LM by Rusty Schweickart in March 1969.
Mothership “Balls Three” overflies an X-15 in 1961. Three operational X-15s were constructed and
flown for 199 test flights between them, as they pushed at the “envelopes” of speed and altitude, and reached the very edges of space.
The Mercury Control Center (MCC) at Cape Canaveral supervised seven human spaceflights between May 1961 and March 1965, into the beginning of the Gemini era. Meanwhile the more advanced control complex in Houston was taking shape ahead of Apollo.
Technicians working at the base of Alan Shepard’s Mercury-Redstone 3 launch vehicle are swathed in vapour from vented excess oxidiser gas on May 5, 1961. Subsequent rockets could not be so closely approached when fueling.
The Rendezvous Docking Simulator at Langley prepared Gemini astronauts for the strange physics of orbital flight.
Ahead of Gemini 10, Commander John Young explains to the media how copilot Michael Collins will inspect the Agena Target Docking Vehicle during his spacewalk, 1966.
Navy divers prepare to retrieve the Gemini 6A crew on December 16, 1965. Green dye was released by spacecraft on splashdown, making it easier to spot from the air.
The U.S. geological Survey’s map of the area around Tycho Crater, famous as the site of a mysterious alien monolith in the 1968 science fiction film “2001: A Space Odyssey.” In real life, this chaotic and rugged terrain would have been too difficult for an Apollo mission to access.
Apollo 11 Command Module Pilot Michael Collins inspects NASA’s Lunar Receiving Laboratory at the Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston, where rock samples collected by Apollo were analysed. Nitrogen gas protected the rocks from accidental corrosion in Earth’s oxygen-rich atmosphere.
NASA scientists are confident that Buzz Aldrin’s boot prints from Apollo 11 are still as sharp and distinct today as when they were first stamped down in 1969, because the Moon has no air or rain to erode them.
NASA’s Anechoic Chambers are among the quietest places anywhere on earth. Walls absorb almost all stray echoes, whether sound or radio. This 1972 model of a shuttle, being tested for radio characteristics, has thruster pods on the wingtips.
Lightning strikes the launchpad of Space Shuttle Challenger on August 30, 1983 prior to STS-8, the first pre-dawn launch of the space shuttle program. Launchpads are surrounded by tall lightning towers and other conductive systems.These create a giant “Faraday Cage,” diverting the electric charge of strike well away from the spacecraft.
The ISS has been continuously occupied since November 2000. Its habitable volume is equivalent to a Boeing 747’s. An international crew of six people live and work while traveling at five miles (8 km) per second, orbiting Earth once every 90 minutes. This is the single most complex and ambitious engineering effort in history, even when compared to Apollo.
The Hypersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator (HIAD) is a hybrid of parachute and balloon technology. A new generation of flexible heat shield materials could enable a huge shield to be deployed from a small storage canister just before a spaceraft hits the atmosphere of its target planet. In July 2012 a HIAD survived a trip through Earth’s atmosphere at 7,600 mph.
In April 2016, ocean scientists at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, analysing data from Landsat 8, found mysterious lines crisscrossing the vegetation in the shallow waters of the North Caspian Sea.The cause turned out to be ice gouging at the seafloor in winter, before melting in the spring, and leaving just these clues.
Curiosity made this self-portrait on August 5, 2015, by maneuvering the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) camera on the end of a seven-foot-long robotic arm. Multiple overlapping frames were acquired, then digitally stitched together by image analysts at JPL. The arm moved into a new position for each frame but the camera always pointed toward a specific
“vanishing point” to minimize parallax distortions.
Jupiter's moon Io is dwarfed by the planet it orbits, as seen by the Cassini spacecraft en route to Saturn. Cassini’s 13-year tour of the ringed planet changed the course of planetary exploration.
A technician prepares to unlatch a small door built into the guide vanes of the Transonic Wind Tunnel at Langley Research Center in 2010. The vanes prevent turbulent eddies from interfering with the tests.
Its two-meter drill will attempt to unearth protected elements of life buried beneath the surface.
After two primary tests earlier this year flagged up problems with the rover’s parachute capabilities, the Rosalind Franklin must now pass tests in Oregon, US, in November.
If sufficient progress is not demonstrated, the July 2020 launch date could be in jeopardy.
Dr Graham Turnock, chief executive of the UK Space Agency, said that the achievement establishes “the UK’s leading capabilities in robotics, space engineering and exploration.”
The next stage of testing will examine whether it can endure the tumultuous conditions of space before its confirmed launch.
Pietro Baglioni, the ESA’s ExoMars manager, said: “We hope to find evidence of presence of water, which is already clear from other investigations that we have done from missions to Mars so far”.
He added: "Then signs of possible microorganisms, or things that have been related to the presence of water that can bring us to the concept of possible past life on Mars."
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Van Odedra, the Airbus ExoMars rover project manager, said: “This is just another big step of the journey to get to Mars.
“We will have a big sigh of relief when the rover is able to get off the platform, drive down along the ramps and get on to start its mission.”
If it launches as planned next summer, it is due to land on Mars on March 19, 2021.