The landing site for ExoMars’ Schiaparelli lander

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This ESA press release provides a nice overview of the landing area that the Schiaparelli lander on ExoMars is targeting.

The landing ellipse, measuring 100 x 15 km, is located close to the equator, in the southern highlands of Mars. The region was chosen based on its relatively flat and smooth characteristics, as indicated in the topography map, in order to satisfy landing safety requirements for Schiaparelli. NASA’s Opportunity rover also landed within this ellipse near Endurance crater in Meridiani Planum, in 2004, and has been exploring the 22 km-wide Endeavour crater for the last five years. Endeavour lies just outside the south-eastern extent of Schiaparelli’s landing ellipse.

Since the primary missions of both Schiaparelli and the ExoMars orbiter, dubbed the Trace Gas Orbiter, is test the technology for getting to and landing on Mars (in preparation for the more challenging 2020 ExoMars mission), I suspect that they chose this very well studied and already visited area to make this test landing less risky.

Side note: ExoMars successfully completed its second and last planned mid-course correction yesterday in preparation for its October arrival at Mars.

One comment

  • Localfluff

    What I would think should be considered is not what’s on the ground, since it will do nothing there once it has landed. But the atmosphere which varies in density alot seasonally, and of course differently at different latitudes. The lander does have instruments to learn something about the atmosphere during the entry. When Mars’ weather is well understood one can save much fuel by using aerobraking, and narrow the landing ellipses.

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