ExoMars Drill System
AURORA ExoMars is the first mission of the ESA planetary exploration programme. Thales Alenia Space Italia is the Prime Contractor for the entire project. In its operational scenario on Mars the ExoMars mission foresees the acquisition and on board analysis of soil samples taken to a depth of up to 2 metres and the investigation of the drilled borehole using spectrometric techniques in both visible and infrared ranges.
The key elements to perform this mission are: a drill unit capable of reaching the subsurface depth and recovering samples of material to the surface and an advanced compact spectrometer (Ma_Miss), which is directly integrated in the front section of the drill string. The complete drill unit is mounted on to the Exomars Rover via a two degrees-of-freedom positioning device, an integral part of the Drill System.
The collected samples, once recovered to the surface, are discharged in a dedicated container and then transported inside the Rover Analytical Laboratory for final processing and distribution to the scientific instruments. To cope with the very challenging two metres drilling depth requirement the Drill System has been based on multistroke technology, using one main drill tool and three extension rods. The drill penetrates the soil by a rotary/translation action.
The optical spectrometer Ma_Miss, devised by Prof Angioletta Coradini and developed in the frame of an Italian Space Agency contract, is implemented within the drill unit and, by using an appropriate optical front end located in the drill tool, it provides observation laterally of the walls of the progressively excavated hole.
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