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Space & Astronomy

ExoMars spacecraft is nearing its destination

By T.K. Randall
October 7, 2016 · Comment icon 6 comments

The probe has almost arrived at Mars. Image Credit: ESA
ESA's two-part ExoMars spacecraft is comprised of both the Trace Gas Orbiter and the Schiaparelli lander.
Having launched back in March and after a journey spanning 310 million miles, ExoMars is set to arrive at the Red Planet on October 16th with its accompanying lander touching down on the 19th.

One of Schiaparelli's main goals will be to test the descent and landing system ahead of ESA's ambitious life-seeking six-wheeled ExoMars Rover which will be launching in 2020.

If all goes well, the probe will also be able to conduct some preliminary experiments of its own on Mars as well as obtaining wind speed, humidity, pressure and temperature measurements.
Meanwhile, the Trace Gas Orbiter will enter in to an elliptical orbit where it will help scientists gain a better understanding of the atmospheric gases present on Mars with an emphasis on learning more about methane and whether it is being produced by biological or geological activity.

One of the main goals of the whole ExoMars project, including the upcoming rover, will be to look for evidence of life on Mars, whether it be past life or something that continues to exist today.

A conceptual video showing Schiaparelli's descent on to the Martian surface can be viewed below.

Source: Belfast Telegraph | Comments (6)

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Gecks 6 years ago
7 months to mars doesnt seem to be a bad effort time wise. If this was a larger vessel with human occupants would the same time frame be achievable? Or would a larger vessel take considerably more time?
Comment icon #2 Posted by Noteverythingisaconspiracy 6 years ago
The time would be about the same for a manned mission. The reason is that the trip time is set by orbital mechanics and those are the same regardless of the size of a spacecraft. The majority of spacecrafts use something called Hohmann orbits. Such orbits use the least fuel, but they also means rather long flight times. There are possible ways to cut the times, but they all require a lot more energy. More energy means more fuel, more fuel means more mass and more mass means higher cost. In the end cost is the determining factor.
Comment icon #3 Posted by Gecks 6 years ago
Great explenation, thank you! Everything undertaken in this world is subject to cost....  it would be great to see how far we could go with some of these endeavors if money wasn't an option. 
Comment icon #4 Posted by Zalmoxis 6 years ago
That is great.
Comment icon #5 Posted by Athena1979 6 years ago
I'm excited that the reality of these probes and test will give us the greater possibility of having humans land on Mars. I could be a witness to this historic event as others before me, were witness to the moon landing. I just have to live long enough. :)
Comment icon #6 Posted by Noteverythingisaconspiracy 6 years ago
Glad to help.   The thing is that the money is there, if we really want to do it. A manned Mars mission would probably cost around 10 billion $ a year (the SLS launcher is allready being funded) and, as an example, the US defence budget alone is  around 600 billion $ a year. This means that less than 2 % of the US defence budget could fund a manned Mars mission. I guess it is a question of priorities.   I hope to see it too. Like you I am too young to have experienced the Apollo landings. (The last one took place the year before I was born)

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