ExoMars programme aim is to investigate the Martian environment and to demonstrate new technologies paving the way for a future Mars sample return mission in the 2020’s.

ExoMars Picture

ExoMars programme consists of two missions:

1. Trace Gas Orbiter and Schiaparelli Lander, an Entry, Descent and landing demonstrator Module (EDM) was launched on 14 March 2016. TGO is currently in orbit. Unfortunately Schiaparelli lander crashed on Mars.

2. Mission 2 features a rover has a launch date of 2020 and surface science platform..

What is ExoMars?

The ExoMars programme is a joint endeavour between ESA (European Space Agency) and Roscosmos (Russian space agency).

Exomars name ‘exo’ refers to the study of exobiology (possible existence of life beyond Earth).

The main goal of the ExoMars programme is to address the question of whether life has ever existed on Mars.


ExoMars programme aim is to demonstrate essential flight and in-situ enabling technologies that are necessary for future exploration missions such as an international Mars Sample Return mission.

These include:
– Entry, descent and landing (EDL) of a payload on the surface of Mars;
– Surface mobility with a rover;
– Access to the subsurface to acquire samples and
– Sample acquisition, preparation, distribution and analysis.
At the same time a number of important scientific investigations will be carried out, for example:
– Search for signs of past and present life on Mars;
– Investigate how the water and geochemical environment varies; and
– Investigate Martian atmospheric trace gases and their sources.


The 2016 mission is composed of the Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) and an Entry, descent and landing Demonstrator Module (EDM) known as Schiaparelli.

Trace Gas Orbiter carries scientific instruments to detect and study atmospheric trace gases such as methane. Schiaparelli contains sensors to evaluate the lander’s performance as it descends and additional sensors to study the environment at the landing site.

The 2020 mission includes a rover that will carry a drill and a suite of instruments dedicated to exobiology and geochemistry research.
Roscosmos will provide a Proton launcher for both missions.

ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter

The Trace Gas Orbiter main science mission is to study the atmosphere of Mars in search of possible indications of life below the surface and to act as a telecommunications relay station for the ExoMars 2020 rover and other mars assets.

Trace Gas Orbiter spacecraft was designed by ESA. Trace Gas Orbiter main mission ends in 2022.

Trace Gas Orbiter

The Trace Gas Orbiter carried the Entry, Descent and landing demonstrator Module (EDM), known as Schiaparelli, on the journey from Earth towards Mars and as it approached Mars it deployed and it entered the Martian atmosphere in order to land on the surface of Mars. Unfortunately the landing was not successful.

Schiaparelli Lander

Schiaparelli EDM (entry, descent and landing demonstrator module) was a technology demonstration vehicle carried by the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter. Schiaparelli and TGO were launched on 14 March 2016 on a Proton rocket at Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan.  Schiaparelli’s purpose was to perform a controlled landing on the surface of Mars.

Schiaparelli Lander Mars

Artist’s Impression…Schiaparelli Mars Lander.

The testing of the lander enabled the testing of key technologies which could be used in subsequent missions to Mars. Unfortunately Schiaparelli EDM Lander crashed on Mars surface.

Schiaparelli Mars Lander Crash Site on Mars

Schiaparelli Mars Lander Crash Site on Mars…taken by NASA ‘s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

NASA ‘s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter imaged changes on Mars surface which confirmed
Schiaparelli’s crash. The photos were released by NASA on Friday 21 October 2016.


Launch Mass: 4332 kg ( Schiaparelli Lander: 577 kg and Orbiter Science Payload: 113.8 kg.

Second Mission

ExoMars 2020 mission will have two science elements that land on Mars:

  1. Surface Platform and
  2. ExoMars Rover

Exomars Surface Platform

Exomars Surface Platform

Exomars Surface Platform

The surface platform will have a mass of 827.9kg, including a scientific payload of 45kg

ExoMars Rover

Second mission in the ExoMars programme begins, with the arrival of the ExoMars rover in 2021. Trace Gas Orbiter will function as a data relay centre for sending commands to the Mars rover and for downloading data to Earth.

The ExoMars 2020 rover will carry a drill and a suite of instruments dedicated to exobiology and geochemistry research. The 2016 Trace Gas Orbiter will act as a relay for the 2020 mission.

ExoMars Links:

ESA – Robotic Exploration of Mars: The ExoMars programme 2016-2020
Camera on Mars Orbiter Shows Signs of Latest Mars Lander: NASA (21 October 2016)

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