ExoMars RDA EGSE Echo Simulator System (ESS) (Beginning activities: 2012/2016)
ExoMars - RDA EGSE Echo Generator (2010/2015)
ExoMars-RME-ATE (2012/2013)
ExoMars- RDA EM Field Test Campaign (2014-2015)
ExoMars 2018 Mars Landing RDA(2016)

ExoMars is the first mission of ESA Aurora Exploration Programme.
The main aim of this Programme is to develop and improve a long-term plan for robotic and human exploration of our Solar System, preferring some specific subjects as the Moon and Mars. A second aim, not less significant, is to look for evidence of life beyond the Earth.
In this context ExoMars will pursue important scientific and technological goals directed to improve Europe capabilities in the field of planetary exploration and, in particular, to observe Mars planet which, in its environment, can hide the evidence of some form of past life.

The European Space Agency has organized the ExoMars programme whose aim is the preliminary study of the Martian environment using the most advanced technologies which will be tested during this mission in view of an expedition, to be carried out in the 2020's, and which could allow to bring finds from Mars to Earth.

In the ExoMars Programme have been scheduled two missions in co-operation with the Russian Federal Space Agency Roscosmos.
The one, to be implemented in 2016, which involves the launch of an Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) and an Entry, Descent and Landing Demonstrator Module, while the other, to be implemented in 2018, includes a rover which will carry a drill and a suite of instruments dedicated to exobiology and geochemistry research.
Roscosmos will provide a Proton launcher for both missions.

Elements of the ExoMars programme 2016-2018 - Credit: ESA

The mission to which these projects refer to, is the one of 2016. The Orbiter will carry scientific instruments to identify and study evidence of atmospheric gas as, for example, the methane, while the Entry, Descent and Landing Demonstrator Module (EDM) will carry sensors that can evaluate the performance of the lander during the descend and study the environmental characteristics of the landing site.

ExoMars 2016 Mission - Trace Gas Orbiter and Entry, Descent and Landing Demonstrator Module.
Credit: ESA-AOES Medialab

The EDM module, covered with a special material that will protect it termically, will be equipped with technology capable of controlling the orientation and landing speed. Indeed the module will slow down its run by means of a parachute which will open after entering the Martian atmosphere and will complete its descent by means of a close-circuit Guide, Navigation and Control system based on a Radar Doppler Altimeter and Inertial Measurement Units.
The Radar Doppler Altimeter is being realized by Thales Alenia Space Italia.

CO.RI.S.T.A. is involved in the test activities of the EXOMARS Radar Doppler Altimeter (RDA).
In particular it is responsible for the design, development and test of the two Echo Simulator Systems (ESS1 and ESS2)and it will provide two ATE (Automatic Test Equipment) units.
The two Echo Simulator Systems will be integrated in the radar Electrical Ground Support Equipment (EGSE) and CO.RI.S.T.A. will support the integration phase into the EGSE of Thales Alenia Space Milano, as for the ESS1, and into the GNC SCOE of Thales Alenia Space Torino, as for the ESS2.

Each of the two Echo Simulator Systems is formed by the following sub-systems:

which serve in different ways to allow the data transmission between the radar and the EGSE.

In a second project CO.RI.S.T.A. is responsible for the design and development of the "core" of the test system of the instrument, that is the Echo Generator, which allows to simulate the echoes coming from Mars surface and to inject them into the radar to test the instrument in various operating conditions.

ExoMars Rover - Credit: ESA

ExoMars- RDA EM Field Test Campaign

As part of the verification activities developed to test the performances of ExoMars Radar Doppler Altimeter, the Field Test is an important step aimed at testing the instrument on the field during a flight path with environmental conditions similar to those of Mars. The test will be carried out in Morocco in the Merzane south of Erfoud, whose characteristics make it similar to the landing site of the ExoMars mission. This area has a diversity of conformation with an altitude ranging from 700 meters to 1000 meters, with dunes and flat areas with few rocks.

The system used for this experimentation campaign will make use of a helicopter under which the RDA will be mounted together with a system of data acquisition and of measurement of position and aligment.

CORISTA is responsible for the conduction of the field tests and the processing of the acquired data.
The results of the data processing, with particular reference to the estimation of the backscattering from terrestrial analogues, will be used later in the laboratory by the ESS (Echo Simulator Systems).

The activities of Field Test will be carried out on behalf of Thales Alenia Space Italy in collaboration with the 'IRSPS International Research School of Planetary Sciences, which will handle the logistics and the test site.
For the activities of the project IRSPS will use its local organization, the Ibn Battuta Centre, a center of research and scientific activities based in Marrakech, designed to support studies aimed to the exploration of Mars and other planets. In addition the test assets can count on the collaboration of the Université Cadi Ayyad of Marrakech as main partner in the IRSPS Ibn Battuta Centre.

ExoMars 2018 Mars Landing RDA

As part of ExoMars 2018 mission, CO.RI.S.T.A. is involved, on behalf of Thales Alenia Space Italia, in a series of support activities for the "Landing Radar Doppler Altimeter Field Test", in particular:

The research activities of the ExoMars project started in 2011.

CO.RI.S.T.A. papers on this topic:

Degree thesis developed on this subject:

For further information please contact:

Stefania Mattei
phone: 081 5935101