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Saturday, August 12, 2017

“Schiaparelli” got to Mars: ready to work

Mars came ninth in the history of the exploration of the red planet terrestrial device Schiaparelli (“list”) – one of the components of the joint mission of Roskosmos and the European space Agency (ESA) ExoMars. This happened exactly 17.48 Moscow time. In just a few minutes before landing apparatus broke into the planet’s atmosphere at an altitude of 120 km at a speed of 5.8 km/s (21000 km/HR). About how much will last the life of the apparatus on the surface of the planet, what tasks it must perform, found “MK”, who watched the landing together with scientists from IKI.

Recall that the start of the mission “ExoMars” was held on 14 March 2016, when, starting from the cosmodrome Baikonur the Russian carrier rocket “proton-M” brought the European unit Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) into orbit. On 16 October, when the mission is closer to Mars, “Schiaparelli” – a small lander with a diameter of 2.4 meters separated from the TGO and headed to the landing. If Mars had intelligent inhabitants, 19 Oct according to the earth calendar in the center of the place called the Plateau Meridian (Meridiani Planum), on a vast plain located 2 degrees South of the equator of Mars, they would see in the sky a bright object, in appearance very reminiscent of a meteor, fiery train… At some point the meteor has acquired the features of a real flying saucer, descending to the Plateau smoothly under a large parachute dome…

Almost immediately after opening the parachute from plates shot out the bottom of the brake shield (front fairing), and on DECA camera (Descent Camera) began to make images of the surface. At intervals of fifteen seconds she had to get 15 shots. After landing, they will be transferred first to the computer module, and then to the Ground. This detailed survey will allow experts to better understand how was the process of decrease exactly where it sat camera.

At a distance of 1.2 km from the surface of Mars, “Schiaparelli” at the speed of 250 km/h is “popped” from the protective capsule, the plates and began an independent flight. At this point beneath it erupted nine of fire (liquid thrusters), which has helped to make a soft landing module weighing 577 kg.

For Agency staff “Schiaparelli”, named after the famous Italian astronomer Giovanni Virginio Schiaparelli, the first European spacecraft on Mars. Earlier automatic landings on Mars could only be proud of the Russians and the Americans. The chronology is as follows: the world’s first Mars reached the Soviet station “Mars-3” in December 1971, and then for many years the Red planet was literally occupied American spacecraft “Viking 1″(1976), Viking 2 (1976), Mars Pathfinder (1997), “Spirit” (2004), “opportunity” (2004), “Phoenix” (2008) and “Curiosity”(2012). The word “opportunity” is now just in the area of landing “Schiaparelli”.

Landing on Mars was for “Schiaparelli” the number one task. If he succeeded with her in full, at the time of this writing was unknown (there was a communication problem). If the machine survived, in the next eight days (it is so much calculated work of a battery module), it must perform a series of scientific measurements systems for different sensors. For example, the complex DREAMS will measure the speed and direction of wind, humidity level, pressure, temperature at the surface and the transparency of the atmosphere already at the landing site. Also for the first time in the history of DREAMS complex will measure the electric field of Mars. “Schiaparelli” arrived on Mars in dust storms. In this regard, researchers were to study the interaction of the electric field of Mars with dust storms. During the “life” module on Mars to be held tens of sessions, his Association with the flying satellites NASA and ESA that relay data from “Schiaparelli” on the Ground. By the way, pictures of Mars the from him to not wait, – the special chamber are provided.

Now back to the main office of the mission, Exo-Mars — TGO, also on October 19, after splitting with the “Schiaparelli” on the orbit of the red planet for the main work for several years. Recall that it needs to contribute to the study surface, atmosphere and climate of Mars, and searches for signs of life on it. In particular, the Terrans while it is not known where in the Martian atmosphere methane comes? Whether it is the product of biological activities of some living beings or the result of volcanic activity of the planet? These answers will try to give an answer to the TGO.

Available on Board the four scientific instruments is a purely Russian FREND neutron spectrometer to search for signs of water and ice in soil of Mars, and to study the complex atmospheric chemistry of the ACS, which like the first was created in the Institute of space research with participation of specialists from France, Germany and Italy.

Recall that in 2018 to begin the second stage of the ExoMars project, with more active participation of Russia. NPO imeni S. A. Lavochkina will develop for him the landing module. He will have to deliver on the Mars landing platform (also developed in Russia) and the European Rover.


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