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Two Space Agencies Will Try To Make A Historic Landing On Mars Next Week

First Posted: Oct 11, 2016 04:56 AM EDT
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A joint mission led by the well-known European Space Agency and Roscosmos hopefully arrives at Mars in the coming week, and its major objective post landing will be to create history. NASA, who has been bragging all the way to be the only space agency that has landed probes successfully on Mars, may soon lose its record.

Exomars is an astrobiology mission that has been designed to look for signs of biological and geological activities on Mars. It is expected to reach the orbit in next week, on 19th October. Once it lands on the surface of Mars, the two components of the mission- a Schiaparelli lander and a Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO)- will go their separate ways. The TGO will try and get into a low-altitude orbit and initiate the scanning of the Martian atmosphere for water vapor, methane and other trace gases. Meanwhile, Schiaparelli will aim at reaching the surface in one piece, according to Gizmodo.

Landing on Mars is a tough task and none of the two agencies have a good track record at the job. In the 1960s and 1970s, the Russians sent few probes to Mars but none of the missions was successful as some spacecrafts crashed, few were destroyed shortly after landing while others missed their target completely.

In the year 2003, the European Space Agency's spacecraft, Beagle 2 lander, reached the surface of Mars successfully but it lost contact with Earth as its solar panels failed to deploy. Following that, a spacecraft intended for Phobos, Mars' moon, was launched by Russia in 2011. However the probe could never make it out of the low Earth orbit, and it fell back eventually burning in our own atmosphere.

So it can be said that Exomars will be arriving on Mars with a lot of baggage and some targets to achieve. TGO and Schiaparelli will separate on October 16th and three days post the separation, Schiaparelli will enter the Martian atmosphere. The landing angle has to be absolutely perfect, or else the probe will burn because it will come in too hot or it may bounce back into space.

This entire mission is pre-programmed and the lander will have only one chance to land safely, deploy its braking parachute and the three sets of hydrazine thrusters. If anything goes wrong, there will not be any do-overs. This is definitely going to be an exciting mission to watch.

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