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Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Video round up on Schiaparelli and the Trace Gas Orbiter

Above: Mars.
Update: As of 18:00 GMT the TGO orbiter is safely in Mars orbit, but the lander seems to have vanished...

'Schiaparelli and the Trace Gas Orbiter.' It sounds like an experimental Italian jazz band doesn't it? It's actually a ground breaking European mission - part of a small fleet of them, titled 'ExoMars.'

The European Space Agecy has gotten spacecraft into orbit around Mars before, and on one occasion a British team tried to put a lander onto the surface - it was never heard from again, although it was found by the MRO spacecraft last year

But they've never managed to get a working lander on the surface - yet. This afternoon they hope to change that.
ESA is aiming to land a rover and an automated science platform in the early 2020's. That's where the Schiaparelli lander comes in: Although it's science payload is modest, it will give ESA a chance to practice getting something safely onto Martiian soil. 

Meanwhile the Trace Gas Orbiter will do a double mission, studying Mars' atmosphere (and looking for any biomarker gases like methane in particular) and acting as a relay satellite for future missions.
But don't just take my word for it* - take these ESA video's word for it instead.

The descent to Mars: 


The mission's milestones:

A flyover of the landing site:  

The lander should (hopefully) be on the surface by 1500 GMT. You can follow the landing live, here.

*Because I'm some random on the internet.

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