MOSCOW, April 14. /TASS/. The European Space Agency (ESA) released on Thursday the first images sent back to Earth by the ExoMars spacecraft en route to the Red Planet.
The images were made by the ExoMars’ high-resolution camera on April 7 to test the spacecraft’s technology, the ESA said.
"In the weeks following liftoff on 14 March, mission operators and scientists have been intensively checking the Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) and the Schiaparelli entry, descent, and landing demonstrator to ensure they will be ready for Mars in October," the ESA said in a statement.
Once orbiting Mars, TGO will embark on a mission to measure the abundance and distribution of rare gases in the atmosphere with its sophisticated sensors.
The image sent back by the ExoMars spacecraft "shows a randomly selected portion of the sky close to the southern celestial pole. This image is composed of two frames taken in slightly different directions by using the camera’s rotation mechanism," the ESA statement said.
As of today, one month following launch, TGO and Schiaparelli have completed more than 83 million km of their 500 million km journey to Mars. The view sent back to Earth shows that the camera and its pointing mechanism are working well, the ESA said.
The Russian-European mission ExoMars 2016 was launched from the Baikonur space center with the help of a Proton-M carrier rocket on March 14.