The ExoMars Mars mission just surpassed an important milestone.
ExoMars is a joint space mission of European Space Agency (ESA) and the Russian Space Agency (Roscosmos). The primary goal of the ExoMars program is to address the question of whether life has ever existed on Mars.
The program comprises two missions. The first launched in March 2016 and consists of the Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) and Schiaparelli, an entry, descent and landing demonstrator module. The second is planned for launch in 2020 and comprises a rover and surface science platform.
The Schiaparelli landing module separated at at around 11am ET successfully from the ExoMars spacecraft. The landing module is now expected to land on Mars on Wednesday, October 19.
Schiaparelli is landing in region called Meridiani Planum. The module will test a range of technologies to enable a controlled descent and landing on Mars in preparation for future missions, including a heatshield, a parachute, a propulsion system and a crushable structure.
Schiaparelli also carries a small science package that will record the wind speed, humidity, pressure and temperature at its landing site, as well as obtain the first measurements of electric fields on the surface of Mars that may provide insight into how dust storms are triggered.
ESA will have live coverage from the Schiaparelli on Wednesday.