ExoMars: From separation to landing


On 16 October, seven months and 500 million km after launching from Baikonur in Kazakhstan, the joint European and Russian ExoMars 2016 mission reaches a crucial phase.

The Trace Gas Orbiter will release its Schiaparelli lander for a three day coast and a six minute descent to the Martian surface.The lander, which was designed to demonstrate technologies for entry, descent and landing on Mars, is heading for the Meridiani Planum. This is an area that is currently being studied by NASA’s Opportunity rover and Europe’s Mars Express orbiter.

On 19 October, the Schiaparelli lander will be activated a few hours before reaching the Martian atmosphere, when it will be travelling at some 21 000 km/h. The front heatshield – covered with 90 insulating tiles – will be subjected to temperatures of up to 1500 degrees Celsius.

This video covers the separation, descent and landing procedures, as well as the orbiter’s critical burn to avoid crashing on the surface of Mars.

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  1. Sure raises a red flag that any mars lander equipped with biological analysis equipment on it suffers this unfortunate fate. Keep it minerals only instruments, they land just fine. Mars wishes to keep its secrets from the civilian population. Take a look at all of the Mars landers since the 70's and compare equipment platforms of the ones that crashed vs ones that landed safely. Success is strongly on the side of those without biological molecule detection. The original Viking both did pass organic molecule detection, but dismissed by NASA. Why is it so hard to simply say "mars can support life"? Who wants to keep it such a secret?

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