ExoMars is a Russian-European Mars exploration mission currently in development by the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Russian Space Agency (Roscosmos), which foresees sending a Russian lander in 2018 to leave an ESA rover on the surface of Mars.
Within this mission, Comecer was commissioned to create a 7-metre long multi-chamber isolator, inside of which the scientific heart of the ExoMars rover will be assembled. For the mission to be successful, in fact, the critical parts of the instruments require handling in conditions with absolutely no microbiological contamination or volatile particles and with volatile organic contamination (VOC) reduced to levels never before reached in commercial and experimental isolators.
The heart of the rover is an assembly of sophisticated instruments that are able to detect the presence of composites like organic molecules or other biological markers. Their objective is to understand whether Mars ever hosted life and it is unacceptable for these instruments to be affected by even the most minimal terrestrial organic or microbiological presence. The goal of the isolator is to prevent contamination in nanogram order and ensure the total absence of micro-organisms generated or transported during the rover instrument assembly stage. Inside the isolator, in fact, there will the Assembly and integration phase of the most critical and clean parts of the Analytical Laboratory Drawer (ALD).
The ALD can be compared to a real chemical laboratory and it contains several instruments and analytical techiques:
The isolator is a solution designed on Thales Alenia Space Italia specifications and is made possible thanks to all the Comecer know-how currently used in creating isolators for sterile processes and large-scale pharmaceutical production. Innovative technology was also used, which was either invented by Comecer or integrated thanks to collaboration with R&D departments of leading companies in the filtration and molecular and microbiological detection sector.
The final goal is to reach an extreme degree of cleanliness, under the parts-per-trillion (PPT) threshold, which is only possible thanks to the use of unique components:
The isolator is currently in the testing stage at Thales Alenia Space in Turin and is a solution of unique excellence in the global spectrum of isolation technology.