ExoMars Activities at Aberystwyth University
One of the BIG science questions is:
"Is there, or has there been, life on Mars?"
In 2018 a European Space Agency (ESA) rover called ExoMars will be launched on a journey to find out.
ExoMars is part of the ESA Aurora exploration programme.
This is a long-term
plan for the robotic and human exploration of the solar system with emphasis on Mars, our Moon and the asteroids.
The search for life beyond the Earth is a key objective.
ExoMars is the first Aurora Flagship mission.
(Computer graphics generated image of the ExoMars rover Phase B2 concept. Credit ESA)
Of the 14 ESA nations participating in Aurora and ExoMars, the UK is the 2nd largest contributor. Aberystwyth's involvement includes:
(The Aberystwyth rover is built on a
This has six wheels and each can be
independently driven and steered, and it has a 'wheel walking' capability -
movie here. Shown below is the Aberystwyth multi-spectral PanCam.)
- ExoMars Panoramic Camera (PanCam)
Instrument. Co-I and member of the 3D vision team.
- P-I for the PanCam Calibration Target (PCT).
- ExoMars Robotic Arm Autonomous Sample Acquisition).
PI - involves UK STFC funded research and a Beagle 2 arm study.
Rover Inspection Mirror (RIM).
PI - involves the PanCam and robotic arm.
- ExoMars Rover Operations Control Centre (ROCC) – Mars Terrain Simulator (MTS).
PI for robotics, Phase B1 Study.
To develop and test our ExoMars work, we have created a 'Mars Yard' facility complete with Mars Soil Simulant-D
(from DLR), and rock science targets. This soil is geophysically analogous to Martian regolith.
There is also a region where sub-surface samples can be taken using rover drills and
(The Aberystwyth Planetary Analogue Terrain Laboratory - PATLab).
Here we are testing our autonomous sample acquisition algorithms. Images
from our PanCam are processed to identify rocks with a high science value. From this data, a rock's 3D position is calculated
allowing the rover's arm to be placed against the rock's surface -
time-lapse movie here.
In addition to PATLab trials, we are able to test our rover and PanCam algorithms at the local Ynyslas beach which is part of the Dyfi National Nature Reserve.
View Ynyslas Map
ExoMars Funding and Selected Publications:
Current and Past Funding
- UK STFC, Stereo Wide-Angle Cameras for the ExoMars Panoramic Camera Instrument,
Comp. Sci. PI: Barnes D, 01/04/07 – 30/05/13.
In collaboration with UCL MSSL.
- UK STFC, Solar System Physics - Planetary Robotics: IMAPS/Computer Science Rolling Grant,
Comp. Sci. PI: Barnes D, 01/04/07 – 31/03/2012.
- ESA, ExoMars Phase B1 Rover Vehicle Instrument Deployment Arm,
Comp. Sci. PI: Barnes D, 20/11/07 – 07/03/08.
In collaboration with EADS Astrium Ltd.
- ESA, ExoMars Rover Operations Control Centre – Mars Terrain Simulator, Phase B1 Study,
Comp. Sci. PI: Barnes D, 17/09/07 – 17/12/07.
In collaboration with DATASAT Europe Ltd.
- UK PPARC CREST, Interplanetary Rover Technology: Autonomous Robot Planetary Scientist,
Comp. Sci. PI: Barnes D, 01/04/06 – 17/10/2007.
Project led by EADS Astrium Ltd., and in collaboration with SciSys Ltd., and the
Universities of Leicester and Strathclyde.
- UK HEFCW SRIF3, Planetary Analogue Terrain Laboratory,
Comp. Sci. PI: Barnes D, 01/04/06 – 31/05/2007.
- Barnes, D, Wilding, M, Gunn, M, Pugh, S, Tyler, L, Coates, A, Griffiths, A, Cousins, C, Schmitz, N, Bauer, A, Paar, G,
Multi-Spectral Vision Processing for the ExoMars 2018 Mission, 11th Symposium on Advanced Space Technologies in Robotics and Automation - ASTRA 2011,
12-14 April 2011, ESTEC, the Netherlands. PDF version available.
- Barnes, D, Pugh, S, Tyler, L, Autonomous Science Target Identification and Acquisition (ASTIA) for Planetary Exploration,
IEEE/RSJ Int. Conf. on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS 2009), October 11-15, 2009, St. Louis, USA. CD-ROM proceedings,
pp. 3329-3335. PDF version available.
- Woods, M, Shaw, A, Barnes, D, Price, D, Long, D, Pullan, D, Autonomous Science for an ExoMars Rover-Like
Mission, Journal of Field Robotics, Special Issue on Space Robotics, Part II, vol. 26, issue
4, pp. 358-390. (2009), doi: 10.1002/rob.20289.
- Barnes, D, Autonomous Surface Sample Acquisition for Planetary and Lunar Exploration, European
Planetary Science Congress, EPSC2007-A-00392, Potsdam, Germany, 19-24 August (2007).
PDF version available.
- Barnes, D, The ExoMars Rover Inspection Mirror (RIM): New opportunities for Mars surface science,
Geophysical Research Abstracts, Vol. 9, 10815, SRef-ID: 1607-7962/gra/EGU2007-A-10815,
European Geosciences Union, Vienna, Austria, 15-20 April (2007).
PDF version available.
- Barnes, D, Shaw, A, Pugh, S, Autonomous Sample Acquisition for the ExoMars Rover, In Proc. 9th ESA Workshop on Advanced
Space Technologies for Robotics and Automation (ASTRA 2006), ESTEC, Noordwijk, The Netherlands, 28-30 November 2006.
PDF version available.
- Barnes, D, Battistelli, E., Bertrand, R., Butera, F., Chatila, R., Del Biancio, A., Draper, C., Ellery, A.,
Gelmi, R., Ingrand, F., Koeck, C., Lacroix, S., Lamon, P., Lee, C., Magnani, P., Patel, N., Pompei, C.,
Re, E., Richter, L., Roe, M., Siegwart, R., Slade, R., Smith, M., Terrien, G., Wall, R., Ward, R., Waugh, L.,
Woods, M., The ExoMars Rover and Pasteur Payload Phase A Study: An Approach To Experimental Astrobiology,
International Journal of Astrobiology, Vol. 5, Issue 03, July 2006, pp. 221-241,
- Griffiths, A, Coates, A, Jaumann, R, Michaelis, H, Paar, G, Barnes, D, Josset, J-L, Context for the ESA ExoMars
Rover: the Panoramic Camera (PanCam) Instrument, International Journal of Astrobiology, Vol. 5, Issue 03, July
2006, pp. 269-275, doi: 10.1017/S1473550406003387.
The information provided on this and other pages by me, Dave Barnes, is under my own personal
responsibility and not that of Aberystwyth University. Similarly, any opinions expressed are my own
and are in no way to be taken as those of Aberystwyth University.
Last Modified: 21st April, 2011