INA – Sources
The Rosalind Franklin rover, which will search for life, has been mated to the Kazachok platform that will land it on the surface of the Red Planet.
It's the first time the two have been joined together.
The fit-check was conducted by engineers at the Cannes, France, factory of Thales Alenia Space.
The UK-assembled robot is seen sitting atop the lander in a folded configuration - as it will be for the journey to, and the touchdown on, Mars.
The rover and lander will later be enclosed in a capsule and then attached to a cruise module.
The capsule's job will be to protect the Franklin robot and Kazachok platform from the searing heat that is encountered on entry into Mars' atmosphere. The cruise module is the vehicle that shepherds the whole mission to the Red Planet after launch.
All the elements must go through not only a physical fit-check, but an assessment of the electrical, power and data-connections between them.
Once the work at Cannes is compete, the four major parts of the "stack" will be disassembled for despatch to the Baikonur launch site in Kazakhstan. Re-assembly will include the insertion of some radioisotope heaters in Rosalind Franklin to help ward off the freezing temperatures on Mars.
The mission is targeting a September 2022 liftoff, with a landing at the Red Planet in June 2023. The destination is an ancient terrain called Oxia Planum. Scientists hope there might be evidence there of microbial activity, if only billions of years in the past.