Antwerp Space N.V., a subsidiary of the listed space and technology group OHB SE (Prime Standard, ISIN: DE0005936124), signed a contract with ESA for supplying the instrument called LaRa (Lander Radioscience) to fly to Mars on board the ExoMars 2020 mission.
ExoMars is the space programme consisting of two missions to orbit and land on Mars, executed in cooperation by ESA and Roskosmos, the Russian space agency. The first mission called ExoMars 2016, consisting of an orbiter and a lander, which was launched on 14 March 2016 and is scheduled to land on Mars with the decent-module landing on Wednesady 19th of October. The second ExoMars-spacecraft is scheduled for a launch in July 2020. It includes a surface platform that will actually land on the planet and a rover that will explore the martian surface.
The scientific payload integrated to the surface platform will consist of several instruments thereof two European. LaRa, a Belgian experiment conceived by a scientific team from the Royal Observatory of Belgium is one of the two European instruments selected for the mission. It consists of a sophisticated communication equipment transmitting from Mars to Earth. The analysis of the radio signals characteristics received on Earth will enable the scientists to derive the scientific data. It will be the first time that Belgian equipment will land on the surface of Mars.
LaRa will deliver the most high-precision measurement of the Red Planet's orientation and rotation, helping to understand better its internal structure. It will also be able to investigate the influence of the redistribution of masses, such as the migration of ice from the polar caps to the atmosphere, and its impact on the rotation of Mars.
"We are very proud that the realisation of the first Belgian instrument to ever land on the surface of Mars has been entrusted to Antwerp Space. We are thrilled to participate in this ambitious endeavour and look forward to the scientific results LaRa will provide. This contract is also a testimony to Antwerp Space´ know-how and our engineers ability to deliver high precision instruments for world-class scientific missions”, says Roberto Aceti, Managing Director of Antwerp Space N.V.
"LaRa will help us to understand why our sister planet Mars has not evolved similarly to Earth. Mars' internal structure may still be hot enough to contain a liquid core. The deep interior of a planet can be measured by its rotation. An everyday example of the influence of the physical state of the interior on the rotation is that raw (liquid) and cooked (solid) eggs rotate differently. LaRa will allow us to observe the rotation and orientation of Mars and therewith identify its core and evolution. I look forward to receiving the data", says Véronique Dehant, Team Coordinator for the LaRa experiment at the Royal Observatory of Belgium (ROB).
The second ExoMars mission with the LaRa-instrument onboard set off 2020 towards our neighbour planet. For ExoMars 2020 OHB will also design the so-called Carrier, which will bring the rover to Mars. In addition, OHB is responsible for a couple of subsystems e.g. the SPDS (sample preparation and distribution system) inside the Mars rover. LaRa will then be operational for more than a year, allowing a sufficient collection of science data.
Please see more information in the ExoMars broschure.