Thales/ESA – ExoMars Parachute

Mission Background:

Establishing if life ever existed on Mars is one of the outstanding scientific questions of our time.

To address this important goal, the European Space Agency (ESA) has established the ExoMars Programme to investigate the Martian environment and to demonstrate new technologies paving the way for a future Mars sample return mission in the 2020's.  Two probes will be launched in 2016 and 2018. The main objectives of the 2016 are to search for evidence of methane and other trace atmospheric gases that could be signatures of active biological or geological processes and to test key entry, descent and landing technologies in preparation for ESA's contribution to subsequent missions to Mars. The 2018 mission will land two rovers on Mars to search for evidence of past or present life and demonstrate of key technologies in preparation for a future Mars Sample Return mission.

Customer Requirements:

Vorticity is supporting the Thales core engineering team by providing expertise in parachute system design, analysis and testing.

Our Work:

Ensuring a successful parachute system is a vital element of the design of the ExoMars 2016 mission.

Vorticity has responsibility for the parachute system performance, oversight of parachute system design and system level testing.

Vorticity is simulating parachute performance throughout the operational Mach number regime using fluid structure interaction (FSI) analysis.

Vorticity managed subsonic wind tunnel tests of the second stage parachute at the 9 m x 9 m CNRC wind tunnel and is working on supersonic testing of the first stage parachute in the NASA Glenn 10 ft x 10 ft tunnel.

We have already conducted successful subscale high altitude drop testing of the parachute and are developing the high altitude drop test vehicle, its controller and instrumentation that will be used to conduct an end-to end test of the full scale parachute system following release from a balloon from 30 km altitude.