ExoMars Lander Module Named "Schiaparelli"

©ESA

ExoMars Lander Module

The entry, descent and landing demonstrator module that will fly on the 2016 ExoMars mission has been named 'Schiaparelli' in honour of the Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli, who famously mapped the Red Planet's surface features in the 19th century.

ExoMars is a joint endeavour between ESA and Russia's Roscosmos space agency, and comprises two missions that will be launched to Mars in 2016 and 2018.

The Trace Gas Orbiter and Schiaparelli make up the 2016 mission, while the ExoMars rover, with its carrier and surface platform, will be launched in 2018. Working together, the orbiter and rover will search the planet for signs of life, past and present.

Schiaparelli will prove key technologies for Europe with a controlled landing on Mars. It will enter the atmosphere at 21 000 km/h and use parachutes and thrusters to brake to less than 15 km/h before landing less than eight minutes later.

The module will collect data on the atmosphere during the entry and descent, and its instruments will perform local environment measurements at the landing site, which is in a region of plains known as Meridiani Planum.

The 2016 mission will arrive at Mars during the period when seasonal global dust storms are most likely. Thus the measurements obtained during landing will provide important information for improving models of the atmosphere and the mechanisms that trigger dust storms

"Considering the importance of Giovanni Schiaparelli's pioneering observations of Mars, it was an easy decision to give his name to the ExoMars module that is paving the way to the further exploration of the Red Planet," says Alvaro Gimenez, ESA's Director of Science and Robotic Exploration.

The name was suggested by a group of Italian scientists to the president of the Italian space agency, who then proposed it to ESA. Italy is the largest European contributor to the ExoMars programme.

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