The European Space Agency announced yesterday that Trace Gas Orbiter reached Mars safely. The spacecraft’s mission is to orbit the Red Planet and provide information on the gas composition. The European spacecraft was also accompanied by a lander, but researchers haven’t received additional news about it yet.
Trace Gas Orbiter is part of the ExoMars project, developed by European and Russian specialists. They endeavor to find signs of alien life on the Red Planet. Officials announced that the spacecraft reached the destination safely on October 19, just as planned.
The researchers’ plan also included the landing of the Schiaparelli probe. Trace Gas Orbiter was its mothership from the moment they were launched, seven months ago, until October 16. Officials from the agency announced the successful separation earlier this week. They only know that it landed on Mars, but didn’t receive further signals from it. They are concerned that the spacecraft might have crashed when landing.
The last information that researchers received from Schiaparelli is when it entered Mars’ atmosphere. The signals were distinctive, showing that everything was going according to plan. However, specialists can’t confirm whether the spacecraft has successfully landed.
According to the researchers’ information, the European lander was the first to enter Mars’ atmosphere. However, they intend to analyze the recording of the landing and investigate into what happened to the probe. They also intend to use other space orbiters to look for information.
The Schiaparelli probe is equipped with non-rechargeable batteries. This means that it will only be active for a few days. Its purpose was to collect some information and then switch off. Researchers also used it as a model for their upcoming robot. They wanted to test safe landing, for the future launch event in 2020.
The Trace Gas Orbiter mothership and the Schiaparelli lander are only the first part of the ExoMars project. The two spacecraft are meant to gather information on Mars’ atmosphere, soil, climate and other features of interest for researchers.
The second step of the European-Russian partnership includes a specially designed rover. Its launch to Mars is due to 2020, after several tests and a significant collection of data on the location. The daring project aims to discover signs of life on Mars, and the rover is their best tool.
However, the good news is that Trace Gas Orbiter’s mission is a success for the time being. It is meant to spend at least two years in space, gathering data on the planet’s gasses. Researchers hope that their project will be entirely successful.
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