The dreams of Martian neighbors and human mission to Mars may soon turn into reality! ESA (European Space Agency) had planned to launch the ExoMars mission in 2011 to establish whether life ever existed on Mars, or is still active today.
ExoMars Rover from http://www.esa.int/esa-mmg/mmg.pl?keyword=exomars
There are three parts in this mission: a Mars orbiter, a descent module and a Mars rover. After the Mars orbiter has reached Mars and put itself into orbit around the planet, the Mars descent module will deliver the rover to a specific location by using an inflatable braking device or parachute system. The advanced technologies used are robust enough for the Rover to survive the stresses of atmospheric entry and land accurately. The Rover is able to travel for kilometers using conventional solar arrays to generate electricity. Autonomous navigation is made possible with optical sensors and onboard software. This highly intelligent software is designed by SciSys so that the Rover can validate its activity plans with real-time information and repair these plans autonomously should they fail.
It carries the exobiology Pasteur model payload, including panoramic instruments, a subsurface drill, a sample preparation and distribution unit and the analytical lab. The latter includes a microscope, an oxidation sensor and a variety of instruments for characterizing the organic substances and geochemistry in the collected samples. The most important element is the drill which can reach a depth of 2m, monitor and control torque, thrust, penetration, depth and temperature at the drill bit, and conduct mineralogy studies inside the borehole.
ExoMars is the first mission with the mobility to penetrate deep to reach well-preserved organic molecules. Although there is no guarantee of a breakthrough, the many advanced technologies developed for this project presents high hopes and expectations.