Three days before arriving at Mars on 19 October 2016, the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) will release its entry, descent and landing demonstrator, Schiaparelli, towards the Red Planet. ExoMars is several missions in one. Its orbiter is a science and relay mission. The TGO will search for evidence of gases, such as methane, that may be associated with geological or biological processes. The Schiaparelli lander is a technology demonstrator to test key technologies for future missions to Mars.
The landing site is an elliptical region close to the equator about 100 km long and 15 km wide in the planet’s Meridiani Planum area. It is relatively flat, smooth and well studied as NASA’s Opportunity rover is on the ground and ESA’s Mars Express spacecraft, which will also act as one of the data relay orbiters, has been overhead since 2003.
This video covers the landing and orbital manoeuvres, including the use of aerobraking – which ESA is using for the first time at Mars.
ExoMars: From separation to landing
ExoMars prepares for launch
ExoMars 2016 arriving at Mars
Schiaparelli’s descent to Mars
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