EU-Russian Space Probe Lands On Mars, Scientists Await Signals
The European Space Agency (ESA) says a multibillion-dollar space lander has touched down on the surface of Mars as part of a search for traces of life on the red planet.
Scientists at mission control in Darmstadt, Germany, on October 19 were awaiting confirmation that the landing was safe and successful for the Exo Mars project, a joint mission of the ESA and Russia’s Roscosmos.
The disc-shaped Schiaparelli landing probe was released from its mother ship, the Trace Gas Orbiter, on October 17.
If all went well, batteries aboard the 577-kilogram landing probe will provide power for a few days for data to be sent back to Earth from the Meridiani Planum in the Martian highlands.
The landing craft has a kind of webcam on its underside designed to shoot 15 black-and-white photographs of the Martian surface at intervals of 1.5 seconds.
A signal received on October 19 from the Trace Gas Orbiter confirmed that it was successfully orbiting Mars and could send back data about the atmosphere of Mars.
The spacecraft was launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan in March.
Copyright (c) 2015. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.