We are Going to Mars!
FOR SOME TIME now the spotlight for everything Mars has been on NASA and SpaceX, but all the while Europe has had a secret gambit for the red planet as well. One of the top contenders that hasn’t gotten near the attention is the ExoMars Schiaparelli spacecraft
…which is landing on Mars this week.
The European Space Agency [ESA] uploaded final commands to the Schiaparelli spacecraft, which will land on October 19. Sent in two batches, the first set of commands were sent October 3rd, activated Schiaparelli’s hibernation wake up timers and set the surface science events. The second batch, sent October 7, provided mission command sequences for entry and landing.
Dance of Death
If all goes well, Schiaparelli will enter Mars upper atmosphere on October 16th reaching speeds up to 13,000 mph, where at around 7 miles above the surface parachutes will deploy.
One major concern is weather, as Mars in known to have vicious sandstorms this time of year. The ESA does not seem fazed however, rather excited.
“We always knew we could arrive in a dust storm and Schiaparelli was designed with that possibility in mind,” said ESA project scientist, Jorge Vago. “And from the point of view of getting data on the electrification of dusty atmospheres, it could be very nice,” he told BBC News.
Once the spacecraft has reached the surface, Schiaparelli will have two to four Martian days to conduct tests using the science kits installed on board. After this short time, Schiaparelli will have exhausted all of its power sources.
A Red Legacy
Schiaparelli serves as a test for even bigger missions to Mars in the near future for both ESA and Russia. Namely, the ExoMars Rover mission in 2020 – which will conduct soil samples and geochemical studies.
Eric is the owner and CEO of Protek Support and is a CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional). He graduated from Utah State University with a Bachelors of Science degree in Business with an emphasis in Information Technology (IT). He is an IT Services expert in a variety of technology related fields. Some of these fields include document management software/hardware, enterprise level networking and VoIP phone systems, as well as large scale software implementation projects and the setup of small business networks.