Robotic Exploration Technology Plan
(The latest version of the Mars Robotic Exploration Preparation-2 Programme Technology Plan, Programme of Work for 2016, is available to download here.)
The ESA Robotic Exploration Programme
The programme proposal for Mars Robotic Exploration Preparation was widely supported at the Ministerial Council meeting in November 2008 by ESA Participating States. The MREP programme objective is to build, in the medium term, a European Robotic Exploration Programme, by concentrating first on Mars exploration and by making use of international collaboration, in particular with NASA.
The general approach is to consider a Mars Sample Return (MSR) mission as a long-term objective and to progress step-by-step towards this objective through short- and medium-term MSR-related technology developments, which are validated during intermediate missions, and by developing long-term enabling technologies, such as Novel Power Systems (NPS) or propulsion engines.
The technology work plan was built using the ESA TEChnology NETwork (TECNET) process, in coordination with activities planned in other ESA Directorates in particular Human Spaceflight, and making best use of the industrial and internal studies carried out so far for Mars future missions. The work plan makes use of Exploration Technology Programme (ETP) and Basic Technology Research Programme (TRP) budgets.
The MREP Programme technology developments can be grouped by the time period available for their implementation, which in turn directs the scheduling of the Technology Development Activities (TDAs):
- Short-term technology developments, in relation to the 2020 Network Science Landers mission preparation, which will serve the scientific and technological preparation of MSR. The aim of these developments is to reach Technology Readiness Level (TRL) of 5 for the space segment, prior to the decision of implementing the mission, therefore prior to entering the Definition,Production and Testing Phases (B2/C/D) for the spacecraft. The requested TRL is the minimum required for entering the Development Phase (B2/C) with controlled schedule and cost.
- Medium-term technology developments, in preparation for the post-2020 intermediate missions and MSR. These developments initiate MSR-related technologies and may require in-orbit demonstration prior to the MSR mission. Some of these developments are follow-ons of activities started within the previous Aurora Core Programme.
- Long term technology developments are defined as strategic and enabling technology developments for European robotic exploration, which require an extended duration technology development programme to achieve the adequate maturity. Such developments require 7-9 years development effort and sustained budgets. The intermediate missions will take advantage of these developments and themselves provide opportunities to validate elements of these long-term technologies.
The Robotic Exploration Technology Development Plan is available to download here.