Earth Robot Lost In Mars As Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) Lost Contact Before Touching The Planet Surface, Mars Claims Another Earth Robot as new findings after a journey of 7 months, the Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) of the ExoMars mission went into orbit around Mars on October 19, 2016, but contact was lost with the Schiaparelli lander 50 seconds before it was to touch down on the planet’s surface.
Data transmitted from Schiaparelli back to the TGO showed that most of its descent went according to plan, but it jettisoned its parachute too early and fired the retro-rockets that were to slow it down for only 3 or 4 seconds instead of the required 30 seconds. It is thus likely that Schiaparelli crashed.
ExoMars is a joint mission of the European Space Agency and the Russian Roskosmos. The program consists of two spacecraft, ExoMars 2016 and ExoMars 2020. ExoMars 2016 has two parts.
The Trace Gas Orbiter will study methanein the Martian atmosphere. Methane could be generated either by geological processes or, as it is on Earth, by life.
Schiaparelli (named after Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli) would have studied Martian weather and made the first surface measurements of electric fields, which may play a role in dust storms. ExoMars 2020 will be a rover that will try to find out if life ever existed on Mars.
Mars has become quite a busy place in recent years. Schiaparelli would have joined the American Opportunityand Curiosityrovers on the surface, while the Trace Gas Orbiter shares the skies with the American 2001 Mars Odyssey, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, and MAVEN, Europe’s Mars Express, and India’s Mars Orbiter Mission. Launch windows to Mars occur roughly every two years, and the 2018 launch window will see the journey of two landers, NASA’sInSight and SpaceX’sRed Dragon. The latter is the first step in Elon Musk’splanned colonization of Mars.
The 2020 window will be even busier, with orbiters from India and the United Arab Emirates, the ExoMars 2020 rover, another NASA rover, and a combined orbiter/lander/rover mission from China. After that may come the first humans.
NASA has plans for Mars landings sometime in the 2030s. Musk has a more-ambitious plan, with the first crewed landing maybe as soon as 2022 and many more flights eventually culminating in a colony of one million people.
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