ExoMars, completed integration and testing of the instrument DREAMS
The construction of the instrument is coordinated by ASI. DREAMS will measure meteorological parameters and the atmospheric electric field of Mars.
Four possible landing sites are being considered for the ExoMars mission in 2018. Its rover will search for evidence of Martian life, past or present.
The search for a suitable landing site for the second mission began in December 2013, when the science community was asked to propose candidates. The sites – Mawrth Vallis, Oxia Planum, Hypanis Vallis and Aram Dorsum – are all located relatively close to the equator.
“The present-day surface of Mars is a hostile place for living organisms, but primitive life may have gained a foothold when the climate was warmer and wetter, between 3.5 billion and 4 billion years ago,” says Jorge Vago, ESA’s ExoMars project scientist.
“Therefore, our landing site should be in an area with ancient rocks where liquid water was once abundant. Our initial assessment clearly identified four landing sites that are best suited to the mission’s scientific goals.”
DREAMS (Dust characterization, Risk assessment and Environment Analyser on the Martian Surface) is a multi-sensor whose implementation is coordinated by the Italian Space. The instrument incorporates a suite of sensors for the measurement of meteorological parameters (pressure, temperature, humidity, wind speed and direction, solar radiation) and the atmospheric electric field near the surface of Mars.
It will have the opportunity to study the environmental conditions on the planet in the period in which it is expected a strong presence of dust in the atmosphere. DREAMS will also have the unique opportunity to see whether, in these conditions, it can build on Mars, as on Earth, an intense electric field.
The team of institutions involved in DREAMS includes the Center of Studies and Activities for Space (CISAS) “G. Colombo” of Padua (Accountability Project), the INAF-Osservatorio di Capodimonte (Scientific Responsibility) and the INAF-Arcetri Observatory. There are also involved international partners such Latmos or Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique from France, the center ESTEC of ESA, INTA from Spain, IMF from Finland and the University of Oxford from Great Britain.
The tool has been selected by ESA for integration in EDM (Entry Descent Landing Demonstrator Module) of the ExoMars mission, whose launch is expected in 2016.
“DREAMS – says Raffaele Mugnuolo, Program Manager for ASI – is the only scientific measures that take place on the Martian surface as part of the ExoMars mission in 2016 and consolidates the primary role of Italy in the ExoMars program.”
“The scientific objective of the experiment is to characterize the environment in the Martian landing site EDM during the season marked by dust storms – continues Mugnuolo – DREAMS will have the opportunity to test for the first time whether such an environment can generate atmospheric electric fields on the planet that could constitute a danger to the equipment and / or for a future human mission.”
7 November ended with the successful integration and testing of the model RM of DREAMS with the flight model of “Schiaparelli”, the module “Entry Descent & Landing” (top left) developed by Thales Alenia Space from Torino that will land on the Martian surface in October 2016. In the below photo, DREAMS can be found in the test configuration “stand-alone”.
The ExoMars mission has been designed with the main objective to acquire and demonstrate the ability to execute a European autonomous controlled landing on the Martian surface, operate on the Martian surface in surface mobility, access to the subsoil to withdrawn samples and analyze them in situ.