For the European Space Agency this week, it’s all systems go as its Mars lander Schiaparelli enters the Martian atmosphere to land on the red planet – and its Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) pops into the planet’s orbit.
The first mission of the ExoMars (exploration of Mars) programme is scheduled to run until 2020, and kicked off with a successful launch mid-March 2016 in Kazakhstan.
After seven months travelling together, the TGO and Schiaparelli separated on 16 October to prepare for their simultaneous manoeuvres.
After orbit insertion, the TGO will perform detailed observations of the Martian atmosphere, and specifically will search for gases which might indicate the presence of life.
Schiaparelli’s main purpose is to provide the European Space Agency with the technology to successfully land on Mars in preparation for the future ExoMars rover mission in 2020.
You can live stream the double act above, with curtains opening on Wednesday 19 October 3.40 pm UTC (11.40 am EST; 20 October at 2:40 am AEDT).
Kate Goldberg is currently completing a Bachelor of Arts and Science at Monash University with majors in politics and genetics.