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ESA: Schiaparelli’s descent to Mars

ExoMars (Exobiology on Mars) is a two-part Martian astrobiology life searching project and joint mission of the European Space Agency (ESA) and Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos). The ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) and a test stationary lander called Schiaparelli were launched on 14 March 2016.

Visualisation of the ExoMars Schiaparelli module entering and descending through the martian atmosphere to land on Mars.

Schiaparelli will enter the atmosphere at about 21 000 km/h and in less than six minutes it will use a heatshield, a parachute and thrusters to slow its descent before touching down in the Meridiani Planum region close to the equator, absorbing the final contact with a crushable structure.

The entire process will take less than six minutes: the animation has been sped up.

Schiaparelli is set to separate from the Trace Gas Orbiter on 16 October, after a seven-month cruise together through space, and will enter the atmosphere on 19 October at 14:42 GMT.

The lander is named after Giovanni Virginio Schiaparelli, who was an Italian astronomer and science historian.