The European Space Agency (ESA), in collaboration with the Russian space agency, Roscosmos, plans to send the ExoMars rover back to the explore the red planet in 2020. This space vehicle designed as a laboratory will search for traces of past life and characterize the composition of the Martian subsoil.
Air Liquide's teams have been working on the MOMA (Mars Organic Molecule Analyzer) – one of ExoMars' nine built-in scientific instruments – using the work done for NASA’s Curiosity rover. For this instrument, Air Liquide established a partnership with MPS (Germany) and IKI (Russia) to design and build four high-tech components that have been qualified for flight: a pressure regulating valve, two very-high-performance isolation valves, and twenty bi-stable electrical impulse valves. All these valves are highly miniaturized and weigh only three grams each. Air Liquide also developed the helium tank that will carry the samples in the MOMA, and designed and built the heated tubes that connect these elements, in collaboration with LISA.
These components were installed on the flight model by LISA (Laboratoire Interuniversitaire des Systèmes Atmosphériques), which is responsible for MOMA's gas phase chromatograph. There is only one final stage before the departure for Mars: the installation of the MOMA on the rover. This is planned for 2018.