- Make us your homepage -
Simplified ChineseTraditional Chinese

Latest Update

Spacecraft TGO successfully positioned, confirmation of Schiaparelli contact underway

Updated: 10 20 , 2016 14:27
Xinhua Small  Medium  Large Email Print

PARIS, Oct. 19 -- The Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO), the spacecraft on which the Schiaparelli lander travelled to Mars, "has successfully performed" to reach the red planet orbit, however, Schiaparelli lander signal failed, the European Space Agency (ESA) said Wednesday.

"The Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) of ESA's ExoMars 2016 has successfully performed the long 139-minute burn required to be captured by Mars and entered an elliptical orbit around the Red Planet, while contact has not yet been confirmed with the mission's test lander from the surface," the agency said.

"The signal was lost some time prior to landing," it added.

In a statement, the ESA said engineers were working to confirm contact with the Entry, Descent &Landing Demonstrator Module (EDM), Schiaparelli, which entered the Martian atmosphere some 107 minutes after the TGO started its own orbit insertion manoeuvre.

The disc-shaped 577-kg Schiaparelli lander was programmed to autonomously perform an automated landing sequence, with parachute use and front heat shield release between 11 and 7 km, followed by a retrorocket braking starting at 1100 m from the ground, and a final fall from a height of 2 m protected by a crushable structure, according to the ESA.

"If Schiaparelli reached the surface safely, its batteries should be able to support operations for three to ten days, offering multiple opportunities to re-establish a communication link," it added.

Schiaparelli is part of the European-Russian ExoMars program, which aims to search for signs of past and present life on Mars and evidence of methane and other trace atmospheric gases that could be signatures of active biological or geological processes.

A second ExoMars mission, planned in 2020, will include a Russian lander and a European rover, which will drill down to 2 m underground to look for pristine organic material.

Related Stories