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ExoMars landing module separates from orbiter while approaching Red Planet

October 17, 8:52 UTC+3 MOSCOW
The Russian-European mission ExoMars-2016 was launched on March 14
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© ESA/D. Ducros via AP

MOSCOW, October 16. /TASS/. The Russian-European interplanetary station ExoMars has separated into the Schiaparelli landing demonstrator module and the Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) as it approached the Red Planet, the European Space Agency (ESA) said on Sunday.

The Russian-European mission ExoMars-2016 was launched from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan by a Proton-M carrier rocket on March 14.

The mission comprises the Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) and the Schiaparelli landing demonstrator module, which is to land on Mars on October 19. TGO is expected to reach the orbit of Mars on the same day but before that TGO is to make an orbit-raising manoeuver on October 17. The orbiter will slow down in the Mars atmosphere for about a year. It will study, in particular, small gas mixtures of the atmosphere and water ice on Martian soil.

Schiaparelli will operate on the Red Planet for several days until the energy capacity of its batteries is depleted.

The ExoMars 2nd stage envisages sending a Russian landing platform and a European rover to the Red Planet in 2020. The mission’s 2nd stage will focus on drilling and analyzing Martian soil: scientists believe that the traces of organic life could have been preserved at a depth of several meters.

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