OperatorEuropean Space Agency
ManufacturerRussian Space Research Institute
Instrument typeneutron spectrometer
Functionhydrogen and H2O detector
Mission duration≥ 7 months[1]
Mass1.7 kg
Host spacecraft
SpacecraftRosalind Franklin rover
Launch dateAugust–October 2022[2]
Launch siteBaikonur

ADRON-RM (Autonomous Detector of Radiation of Neutrons Onboard Rover at Mars) is a neutron spectrometer to search for subsurface water ice and hydrated minerals.[3][4][5] This analyser is part of the science payload on board the European Space Agency's Rosalind Franklin rover,[6] tasked to search for biosignatures and biomarkers on Mars. The rover is planned to be launched in August–October 2022 and land on Mars in spring 2023.[2]

ADRON-RM is a near copy of ADRO-EM on the stationary ExoMars 2020 surface platform and the Dynamic Albedo of Neutrons (DAN) neutron detector on board NASA's Curiosity rover, all designed by Igor Mitrofanov from the Russian Space Research Institute (IKI).


ADRON-RM is a neutron spectrometer that will search for hydrogen in the form of bound water or water ice, and hydrogen-bearing compounds. It will be used in combination with WISDOM instrument (a ground-penetrating radar) to study the subsurface beneath the rover and to search for optimal sites for drilling and sample collection.[7] It can also detect trace elements such as Gd and major elements that constitute soil, such as Cl, Fe, Ti.[7] It will also monitor the neutron component of the radiation background on Mars' surface.


ADRON-RM Performance/units[7]
Mass 1.7 kg
Power consumption 5 W
Dimensions ≈ 4 × 20 × 21 cm
Energy range for CETN[a] 0.4 eV - 1 keV
Energy range for CTN[b] ≤ 1 keV
Detectors Two 3He proportional counters
Accumulation period 20 sec (changeable)
  1. ^ counter of epithermal neutrons
  2. ^ counter of thermal neutrons

The Principal Investigator is Igor Mitrofanov from the Russian Space Research Institute (IKI).[3] The instrument is almost a reproduction of the Dynamic Albedo of Neutrons (DAN) neutron detector on board NASA's Curiosity rover also developed in Russia.[8][9] Mitrofanov is also developing the active gamma and neutron spectrometer, ADRON-EM (Active Detection of Radiation of Nuclei-ExoMars) for the stationary Kazachok lander—the primary goal of which will be to measure water distribution in the Martian subsurface.[7] Measurements by ADRON-RM and ADRON-EM will work in synergy with other ExoMars instruments.

ADRON-RM uses two 3He proportional counters with a cylindrical shape of about 25 mm in diameter and 55 mm in total length. Each counter is filled with 3He gas under 4 atmospheres of pressure.[7] Each neutron detector will measure two 32-channel spectra. The data will be obtained as routine and passive measurements, which will not be saved but will be immediately transmitted from the instrument to the rover computer. This means that all ADRON-RM measurements will be performed only when the 'Rover Compute Element' is active (daytime).[7]

ADRON-RM is installed inside the ExoMars rover body at the rear balcony. The height above the surface is 0.8 m (2.6 ft).


The stated objectives of the ADRON-RM scientific investigation include:[7]

  • Measurement of the distribution of bulk hydrogen content in the form of free or bound water.
  • Evaluation of the bulk composition of major soil neutron absorption elements (Cl, Fe, Ti S, etc.)
  • Monitoring of the neutron component of the natural radiation background and estimation of neutron radiation dose at the Martian surface from Galactic cosmic rays and solar particle events.
  • The potential to monitor seasonal changes of the neutron environment due to variations of atmospheric and subsurface properties.

See also


  1. ^ Vago, Jorge L.; et al. (July 2017). "Habitability on Early Mars and the Search for Biosignatures with the ExoMars Rover". Astrobiology. 17 (6–7): 471–510. Bibcode:2017AsBio..17..471V. doi:10.1089/ast.2016.1533. PMC 5685153. PMID 31067287.
  2. ^ a b "N° 6–2020: ExoMars to take off for the Red Planet in 2022" (Press release). ESA. 12 March 2020. Retrieved 12 March 2020.
  3. ^ a b "ExoMars 2018 mission". Институт Космических Исследований Space Research Institute. Retrieved 15 March 2016.
  4. ^ "The ExoMars Project". Retrieved 22 October 2013.
  5. ^ Mitrofanov, I. G.; et al. (July 2017). "The ADRON-RM Instrument Onboard the ExoMars Rover". Astrobiology. 17 (6–7): 585–594. Bibcode:2017AsBio..17..585M. doi:10.1089/ast.2016.1566. PMID 28731818.
  6. ^ Howell, Elizabeth (July 24, 2018). "ExoMars: Searching for Life on Mars". Retrieved March 13, 2020.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g The ADRON-RM Instrument Onboard the ExoMars Rover. I.G. Mitrofanov, M.L. Litvak, Y. Nikiforov, I. Jun, Y.I. Bobrovnitsky, D.V. Golovin, A.S. Grebennikov, F.S. Fedosov, A.S. Kozyrev, D.I. Lisov, A.V. Malakhov, M.I. Mokrousov, A.B. Sanin, V.N. Shvetsov, G.N. Timoshenko, T.M. Tomilina, V.I. Tret'yakov, and A.A. Vostrukhin. Astrobiology, Vol. 17, No. 6-7. 1 July 2017. doi:10.1089/ast.2016.1566
  8. ^ "Mars Science Laboratory: Mission". NASA/JPL. Retrieved August 6, 2012.
  9. ^ Webster, Guy (April 8, 2013). "Remaining Martian Atmosphere Still Dynamic". NASA. Archived from the original on February 13, 2017. Retrieved April 9, 2013.