Airbus Defense and Space is a core team member for the ExoMars mission and has contracted Neptec Design Group to develop and deliver the ExoMars Cameras (EXMC). The EXMC is a stereo camera, with a mass less than 800 g, peak power consumption less than 2.5W, unprecedented accuracy over a wide temperature range, automatic distortion correction, and the ability to survive harsh Martian environment without heaters.
The EXMC uses a global shutter, Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor (CMOS) image sensor, in conjunction with an efficient Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) to provide a robust and accurate means of collecting and reporting high-quality, calibrated images to the Rover Vehicle (RV) mobility algorithms for processing. Two units of the EXMC are used within the ExoMars Rover, one mounted atop the Rover Vehicle mast used for navigation and another mounted on top of the rover body used for localisation.
In addition to acting as a navigation and localization camera, the EXMC has also been modified to permit its use as a sun-sensing device. When required, the EXMC can acquire a precise image of the sun to support the RV Autonomous Mobility System in determining the Rover’s absolute localisation when on the surface of Mars.
A significant amount of testing and development has taken place since the program’s inception in 2013. More than fourteen variants of the EXMC have been built and tested to demonstrate the robustness of the platform and the performance of the design. In particular, the EXMC units have been subjected to radiation environment testing, electromagnetic compatibility testing, cryogenic thermal cycling (between -130°C and +50°C), dust abrasion testing, lifetime testing, vibration testing, electrical testing, optical performance testing and calibration validation. Having conducted the Critical Design Review, the EXMC program is now preparing for the manufacture of the Qualification Model in which many of these tests will be repeated.
The EXMC flight models are scheduled for delivery to Airbus Defense and Space in 2017, for integration with the Rover Vehicle.