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The ExoMars Spacecraft Approaches the Red Planet – The New York Times

The ExoMars spacecraft will arrive at Mars and release a lander on Sunday.

The ExoMars spacecraft has two components: the solar-powered Trace Gas Orbiter and the Schiaparelli lander.

The mission will search the Martian atmosphere for methane and other gases that might be produced by microbial life on Mars.

Liftoff

The ExoMars spacecraft was launched on March 14 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The spacecraft took seven months to travel 300 million miles to Mars.

liftoff.jpg

ESA/Stephane Corvaja

Separation

On Sunday, the spacecraft will release the Schiaparelli lander to coast toward Mars, then fire its engine to enter orbit around the planet.

ESA

Touchdown

On Wednesday, the lander will carve through the atmosphere, release its parachute, separate from its outer shell and fire thrusters as it falls to the surface.

ESA

The landing site

The lander will attempt to touch down on Meridiani Planum, near the site where NASA’s Opportunity rover landed in 2004.

The lander will study the local environment for several days before running out of battery power.

ESA/German Aerospace Center/Freie Universität Berlin

In the neighborhood

The Opportunity rover spent more than two years studying nearby Victoria Crater, below, then drove to Endeavor Crater.

PIA08813-victoria.jpg

NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona/Cornell Univ./Ohio State Univ.

Opportunity explored the rim of Endeavor Crater, below, for five years. The rover is now descending toward the crater’s floor.

pia18393-endeavor.jpg

NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell Univ./Arizona State Univ.

A glimpse of Mars

The ExoMars mission’s first low-resolution image of Mars was taken on June 13 from a distance of 25 million miles.

TGO-first.jpg

ESA

Sorgente: The ExoMars Spacecraft Approaches the Red Planet – The New York Times

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