The ExoMars project is the attempt of European agencies at finding signs of alien life on the Red Planet. The first phases have already been initiated this spring, but their results didn’t live up to the expectations of the researchers. However, the daring project goes on.
The European Space Agency and Roscosmos (a space agency from Russia) joined forces for the ExoMars project. The started their plan by launching two spacecraft to Mars, earlier this year. The Schiaparelli lander and its mothership named Trace Gas Orbiter took off seven months ago and were due to reach their destination on October 19.
However, only half of the twofold plan worked. The large spacecraft was meant to reach Mars orbit and gather information on the composition of gasses of the planet. Trace Gas Orbiter accomplished its first part of the plan, as officials from the European Space Agency announced last week.
As far as the Schiaparelli lander is concerned, its landing was not without difficulties. The scientists at the control center lost touch with the spacecraft just minutes before it reached its destination. For a while, they had no information on its whereabouts and had no idea whether the landing was successful or not.
The specialists at ESA received information from a NASA satellite that their lander was involved in a crash. The satellite images from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter showed that the European lander didn’t survive the impact, although its parachute had been activated.
Despite the difficulties encountered with the Schiaparelli probe, the European and Russian scientists will go on with the ExoMars project. The mission of the Trace Gas Orbiter seems to be going just well, and the spacecraft will spend at least two years in space, orbiting the Red Planet.
Moreover, the following phase of the ExoMars project is even more daring. The Schiaparelli probe was just a test for a bigger initiative, namely that of sending a rover to Mars. The first lander was meant to spend a short time interval on Mars, collecting data on temperature and other climate conditions.
The rover is actually the most important part of the ExoMars project from the European Space Agency and Roscosmos. There are still tests that need to be run and improvements on the design of the machine. The launch of the rover is scheduled for 2020 when spacecraft from other agencies will also be launched to Mars.
Image courtesy of: Wikipedia