ExoMars' Schiaparelli To Land On Mars Today

Posted: Oct 19 2016, 4:40am CDT | by , Updated: Oct 19 2016, 4:43am CDT , in Latest Science News


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ExoMars' Schiaparelli to Land on Mars Today
  • Europe's Historic Moment

Europe will successfully land the Schiaparelli on the surface of Mars.

The basic reason for sending a mission to Mars is to search for signs of life. The surface is the best place to make such a survey for the possibility of finding alien life forms.

The greatest challenge in space exploration is the execution of the entry, descent and landing sequence. This is the real fact behind the failure of so many Mars missions since the late 60s.

Schiaparelli is a vehicle that was carried in piggyback fashion by the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO). The two modules were launched on 14th March, 2016.

A Proton rocket took off from the cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. With Schiaparelli, the ability of the ESA to land a module on Mars will be tested. The testing of special technologies will also be possible via this method.

The module offers limited scientific capabilities. These include a science package that will work on the surface of Mars. It will last for a duration of 2 to 4 Martian days. Three days prior to reaching the atmosphere of Mars, the Schiaparelli detached itself from the orbiter.

The module is currently coasting Mars. It will remain in hibernation mode to cut its fuel costs. It will however be activated a few hours prior to entering the atmosphere of Mars.

Schiaparelli descent sequence. Credit: ESA/ATG medialab

The height will be 122.5 km and the speed will be 21,000 km/h, according to Space.com. A heat shield will protect Schiaparelli from the high temperatures that are reached during the full-on friction conditions of landing.

A parachute will open and allow the module to safely land on the surface of Mars. It will switch on its Doppler radar altimeter and velocimeter to locate its position vis-à-vis the surface of Mars.

A liquid propulsion system will also be activated. Finally, the engines will be turned off in preparation for the landing.

As the Schiaparelli lands, the last shock will be made less abrupt by a crushable structure in the module. The main landing site will be the Meridiani Planum.

Important information will be collected by the module during the course of its stay on the surface of Mars. The design of the Schiaparelli allows it to operate at its best under the harsh and frigid conditions of Mars climate. Its main features are such that it is likely to prove to be a successful venture on the surface of Mars.

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