ExoMars Status: Six Months in Orbit – getting ready for 2020

Exomars Status: Six Months in Orbit

ExoMars Status: Six Months in Orbit – preparing for 2020 with new advanced robot designed to track the surface. Watch the video

Six months after the craft’s arrival at Mars (19 October 2016), Mission controllers of ESA’s Trace Gas Orbiter have begun the challenging process of adjusting the spacecraft’s orbit.  This involves using the shifting Martian atmosphere to gradually slow the satellite, in a process known as aerobraking.

Meanwhile, as the final design of the rover nears completion, the team developing the ExoMars 2020 mission has shortlisted two final landing sites.  They are in areas where they believe traces of life are most likely to be found. It’s an exciting find and could provide information for future life on Mars. The purpose of the mission.

This report contains new animations.  It shows aerobraking orbits of the Trace Gas Orbiter, and designs for the final configuration of the 2020 rover.  It also shows the ExoMars control workstation at ESOC.  There are interviews recorded at ESA centres of the European Space Operations Centre and European Space Research and Technology Centre.

ExoMars had an unsteady landing which was considered a near failure.  But in the video, the experts explain how scientists were able to steady and connect with the craft.  Vital data has been received at mission control. Scientists can now move on with plans for 2020.


The ExoMars programme is a joint endeavour between ESA and the Russian space agency Roscosmos.  The primary goal is to address the question of whether life has ever existed on Mars. This relates to its name, with the ‘exo’ referring to the study of exobiology.

The programme comprises of two missions.  The first launched in March 2016 of the Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) and Schiaparelli.  The second is planned for launch in 2020 with a rover and surface science platform. This will be an exciting element to finding out about Mars.  Scientists are getting close to finding out about life on the red planet. 2020 will be bring them closer to that goal.

Mission plans are well under way with a great building of confidence that the 2020 launch will bring some answers.  It has been a long time.  Previous missions have just missed out on reaching the surface.

 About Mars

The diameter of Mars is 6794 km – about half the diameter of earth.  It’s surface area is 145 million sq km – about the same as earth’s land area

Average distance from the sun: 227 940 000 km – 1.52 times that of earth

Martian day (a ‘sol’): 24 hours 37 minutes.  Martian year: 669 sols or 687 earth days.

Average temperature: -55C (from -133C at the winter pole to a +27C during the summer)


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