Module Schiaparelli ready to “land” on Mars

2016/10/18 Galarraga Aiestaran, Ana - Elhuyar Zientzia Iturria: Elhuyar aldizkaria

Schiaparelli module recently released from the TGO satellite (artistic image). Ed. Medialab ESA/ATG

Two days ago the Schiaparelli module was released from the TGO satellite and, on a good path, tomorrow will be placed on the surface of Mars when here are 16:48. It will be one of the most important moments of the ExoMars project. Your goal: Analyze the environment of Mars and test the technology for missions that are being prepared for 2020.

ExoMars is a project of European (ESA) and Russian (Roscosmos) space agencies. Within him, he now touches Schiaparelli. Specifically, in 2017 the TGO satellite will analyze the gases of the atmosphere, especially methane. But tomorrow it will remain in the orbit of Mars and Schiaparelli will be the one who looks at it. At 16:42, with 21,000 km/h enters the atmosphere of Mars, 121 km/h of its surface, and reaches six minutes later at 15 km/h.

It will be key to control speed loss. And the signal takes longer to reach Earth from Mars (more than 9 minutes) than the maneuver, so it is not possible to do it from Earth. Therefore, they have rigorously planned braking. Thus, to reach the surface without damage, it has a parachute, propellant, a shield and a deformable structure that will absorb the impact.

In addition to these elements, it has a camera to take pictures of the road. Thanks to these images, they will receive the route of the descent maneuver and will know the details closest to the landing place (Meridiani Planum).

On the surface of Mars, through sensors, it will collect data from the medium for a few days of battery life: wind speed, humidity, pressure, temperature, dust, electric field… All these astronomers believe that they will help resolve sandstorms.

ESA will allow you to follow the whole maneuver through its website.

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