10 March 2016 – Scheduled for launch on 14 March, ExoMars-TGO will help to broaden our scientific understanding of Mars with CRITICAL Software delighted to have contributed to the spacecraft’s development.
On the day, a proton rocket will launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, carrying the mission’s two main pieces of technology towards the mysterious Red Planet: the ‘Trace Gas Orbiter’ (TGO) and ‘Schiaparelli’, an entry, descent and landing demonstrator. The TGO, which CRITICAL Software helped to design, develop and validate the Central Software for, will make a detailed inventory of Mars’ atmospheric gases, while the Schiaparelli module will demonstrate a range of different technologies to enable a controlled future landing on the planet’s surface.
After a seven-month cruise, just before the TGO enters Mars’ orbit, the Schiaparelli module will separate and coast towards the planet, entering the Martian atmosphere at 21,000km/h and landing safely in order to complete several days of activities at ground level.
The ExoMars missions are the first part of ESA’s Aurora programme, focused on establishing if life ever existed on our close planetary neighbour. The missions aim to investigate the Martian environment while demonstrating new technologies, paving the way for a future Mars sample return mission during the 2020s. A primary objective of the initial mission is to search for evidence of methane and other trace atmospheric gases that could represent signatures of active biological or geological processes. The TGO will also serve as a data relay for the next ExoMars mission, comprising of a rover and a surface science platform, planned for launch in 2018.
“We are extremely proud to have played such an active role in this complex mission, which will see our software travel further from Earth than any we’ve released so far. We’re looking forward to the exciting results of this mission that will help to expand humankind’s understanding of Mars”, said Bruno Carvalho, Business Development Director for Space, CRITICAL Software.
To mark this important occasion, CRITICAL Software has invited students from local schools to attend a celebration of the launch. Students will enjoy a guided tour of the company’s headquarters in Coimbra and discover what it’s like to work on projects like ExoMars, before watching the launch with team members who have actually contributed to the mission.