A Building for Testing European Rovers and Landers under Simulated Surface Conditions: Part 1 - Design and Phasing
Europe has embarked on a new programme of space exploration involving the development of rover, lander and probe missions to visit planets, moons and near Earth objects (NEOs) throughout the Solar System. Rovers and landers will require testing under simulated planetary, and NEO conditions to ensure their ability to land on and traverse the alien surfaces. ESA has begun work on a building project that will provide an enclosed and controlled environment for testing rover and lander functions such as landing, mobility, navigation and soil sampling. The facility will first support the European ExoMars mission due for launch in 2013. This mission will deliver a robotic rover to the Martian surface. This paper, the first of several on the project, gives an overview of its design configuration and construction phasing. Future papers will cover its applications and operations.