Is there life on other worlds or is planet Earth the only place in our Solar
System where living organisms have evolved? ESA is inviting European and
Canadian industry to participate in its exciting ExoMars mission in order to
provide an answer to this age-old question.

On 9 July, the Aurora Programme Office issued an Invitation to Tender (ITT) for
companies wishing to submit proposals for the detailed design of the ExoMars
rover and its Pasteur payload of scientific instruments.

The deadline for submission of proposals is 13 October 2003, after which two
companies will be selected to conduct the one-year Phase A design studies.

The ExoMars mission includes an orbiter and a descent module that will land a
large (200 kg), high-mobility rover on the surface of Mars. After delivery of
the lander/rover, the ExoMars orbiter will also operate as a data relay
satellite between the Earth and the vehicle on the Martian surface.

The primary objective of the ExoMars rover will be to search for signs of life,
past or present, on the Red Planet. Additional measurements will be taken to
identify potential surface hazards for future human missions, to determine the
distribution of water on Mars and to measure the chemical composition of the
surface rocks.

The vehicle will be equipped with a comprehensive suite of scientific
instruments — the Pasteur payload — that will include tools able to extract,
handle and analyse samples of Martian soil. The instrument mass of this payload
is anticipated to be around 40 kg.

"ExoMars is a very ambitious mission and a key step in the development of the
Aurora long-term plan to send a human expedition to Mars," said Bruno Gardini,
Aurora Project Manager.

"Not only will it include Europe’s first planetary roving vehicle, but it will
also be the first of its kind to carry an exobiology payload, a set of
instruments specifically designed to search for life," he said.

"Interplanetary spacecraft, and landing vehicles in particular, need to be very
compact and efficient, with minimum mass and minimum power consumption," he
added. "The scope of the present study is, therefore, to provide an integrated
rover design, efficiently combining locomotion, scientific instruments and rover

ESA intends to launch ExoMars in 2009, as the first Flagship mission of the
Aurora programme. The ExoMars Phase A studies will be financed by ESA’s Aurora
and ELIPS programmes.

Companies interested in responding to this invitation should visit the agency’s
Electronic Invitation to Tender System (EMITS) website.

More information

* Aurora

* EMITS — Electronic Invitation to Tender System


Artist’s view of the ExoMars descent module carrying the rover. Credits: ESA