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The European Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO), part of the ExoMars 2016 mission, has successfully transmitted its first images back to Earth.
I have posted a video they have assembled of the first images below the fold. It is quite spectacular. As for TGO’s future misssion:
In the next months, the team will be starting preparations for the prime mission. “The test was very successful but we have identified a couple of things that need to be improved in the onboard software and in the ground post-processing», says Thomas. “It’s an incredibly exciting time.” Eventually, TGO will use “aerobraking” (skimming into the atmosphere) to slow the spacecraft down and enter a roughly circular orbit 400 km above this surface. This process will start in March 2017 and take around 9-12 months. The primary science phase will start around the end of 2017. CaSSIS will then enter nominal operations acquiring 12-20 high resolution stereo and colour images of selected targets per day.