JUL 29, 2016 03:59 PM PDT

ESA's ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter Makes Rocket Maneuver

The European Space Agency (ESA) has announced this week that it has made its first major rocket burn maneuver for the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter mission since its launch in March of this year. The mission is a joint effort between the ESA and Roscosmos.
 

The ESA's ExoMars orbiter has fine-tuned its trajectory with a simple rocket burn.

 Image Credit: ESA

The process was required to better align the spacecraft’s trajectory to ensure that it meets up with its target as smoothly as possible. This is because scientists can only guess the best possible launch trajectory based on math and our understanding of the solar system, but everything doesn't always add up, so adjustments may be necessary to get things going where they need to go.

It took place in the space in between the Earth and Mars yesterday morning at 9:30 GMT and was carefully performed and monitored by engineers at the Darmstadt, Germany mission control center. Moreover, it wasn’t a surprise adjustment; rather, it was one that has been planned for some time.
 
“Today’s burn was the biggest of the four planned that will enable ExoMars to intercept Mars and precisely deliver the Schiaparelli lander on 19 October onto Meridiani Planum, a large, flat region near the equator,” said Michel Denis, flight operations director.
 
The spacecraft is currently traveling through empty space towards Mars, where it will tango with the planet in October. The spacecraft has already traveled more than half way through its 500 million kilometer journey.
 
It’s carrying a special payload called the Schiaparelli entry, which will test landing technology that will hopefully be used in the future 2020 rover. If it can successfully land on the red planet's surface without any issues, it'll be the first time a European spacecraft lands on the Martian surface and relay information back to Earth.

While the payload lands on Mars, the orbiter is going to remain in Mars’ atmosphere, continuing to orbit the planet. The orbit will take place some 400 kilometers above the planet’s surface, where it will take gas samples of the planet’s atmosphere along the way. Its goal will be to try and find some of the gasses that are known to be a byproduct of life, such as methane.
 
Before it gets into orbit, however, there are two additional planned adjustments that will be made with the spacecraft’s onboard rockets. Those will help get the spacecraft into proper orbit around the planet, where it will stay for its entire scientific life, which should last through to 2022.
 
Understanding how the Martian environment works is very important for future deep space missions, especially those that involve sending mankind there, which is on the to-do list of not only NASA, but also SpaceX.
 
Source: Astronomy Now, European Space Agency

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
JUL 31, 2018
Chemistry & Physics
JUL 31, 2018
Where Does Earth Get Its Water
We live on Earth, the so-called blue planet. Without water, Earth would not be "blue" at all, not to mention the life that is bred on the planet...
AUG 01, 2018
Space & Astronomy
AUG 01, 2018
Exoplanet Habitability May Depend on the UV Light Emitted by the Host Star
Does the type of light being emitted by a host star impact the probability of life popping up on any of its orbiting exoplanets? Citing a study led by rese...
AUG 22, 2018
Space & Astronomy
AUG 22, 2018
How Much Damage Could an Asteroid Impact Do?
There are so many asteroids in the solar system that it’s challenging to keep track of them. In fact, many asteroids are still lurking in the shadows...
AUG 27, 2018
Space & Astronomy
AUG 27, 2018
These Are Some of the Oldest Galaxies in the Universe, Astronomers Say
While exploring the depths of the universe, astronomers from Durham University’s Institute for Computational Cosmology and the Harvard-Smithsonian Ce...
SEP 13, 2018
Chemistry & Physics
SEP 13, 2018
Faster-Than-Light Jets Seen from Neutron Star Merger
Is there anything in the universe that can travel faster than light? A recent report in the journal Nature declared that the movement of a jet of expl...
OCT 31, 2018
Space & Astronomy
OCT 31, 2018
ESA's European Service Module is Now Ready to be Shipped to the U.S.
Deep space exploration is slowly becoming the primary focus of major space agencies around the globe, and NASA’s Orion spacecraft is poised to become...
Loading Comments...