Why is Oxia Planum the right landing site for ExoMars 2022? (Jorge Vago)


ExoMars 2022 was conceived, from the very beginning, to answer one question:  Was there ever life on Mars?  All project design decisions have focused and continue to centre on the achievement of this one scientific objective.  This is particularly the case for the Rosalind Franklin rover.  Putting the science team in the best possible position to search for physical and chemical biosignatures has led to:

  1. The need to have a 2-m depth drill;
  2. The choice of payload instruments (including the trade-offs we had to make).
  3. The science potential and age of the landing site.
  4. The surface exploration strategy: which targets, how much travelling, and way the instruments will be used together to test hypotheses.

This presentation will summarize how and why this came about and what, based on what we know about Oxia Planum today, we expect to be able to study.

Jorge L. VAGO1, E. Sefton-Nash1, the RSOWG3, the ExoMars Science Working Team, and the ExoMars Project Team (3Rover Science Operations Working Group:  F. Altieri, E. Ammannito, A. Ball, M. Balme,, W.-S. Benedix, T. Bontognali, J. Bridges, W. Brinckerhoff, J. R. Brucato, D. Bussi, J. Carter, V. Ciarletti, M. C. De Sanctis, F. Didot, Y. Dobrolenskiy, A. G. Fairén, P. Franceschetti, C. Freissinet, , T. Fornaro, F. Goesmann, N. Grand, A. Griffiths, S. Gupta, F. Haessig, A. Haldemann, E. Hauber, B. Hofmann, J.-L. Josset, L. Joudrier, G. Kminek, O. Korablev, D. Koschny, C. Quantin-Nataf, C. Leff, T. Lim, D. Loizeau, , G. López, A. Merlo, I. Mitrofanov, P. Mitschdoerfer, A. Moral Inza, N. Mozhina, S. Nikiforov, A. Pacifici, M. Patel, C. Pilorget, P. Poulakis, F. Raulin, D. Rodionov, O. Ruesch, N. Schmitz, C. Schröder, L. Seoane, S. Siljeström, S. Werner, F. Westall, , L. Whyte, A. Williams, R. Williams, Y. Yushtein, E. Zekri, C. Orgel, E. Sefton-Nash, and J. L. Vago)