The ExoMars 2016 mission will enter orbit around the Red Planet on 19 October. At the same time, its Schiaparelli lander will descend to the surface. Representatives of traditional and social media are invited to attend a two-day event at ESA’s ESOC control centre in Darmstadt, Germany.
ExoMars is a joint endeavour between ESA and Russia’s Roscosmos space agency, and comprises the Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) and the Schiaparelli entry, descent and landing demonstrator.
TGO will make a detailed inventory of Mars’ atmospheric gases, with particular interest in rare gases like methane, which implies that there is an active, current source. TGO aims to measure methane’s geographical and seasonal dependence and help to determine whether it stems from a geological or biological source.
TGO will start its science mission at the end of 2017, following a year of complex aerobraking manoeuvres to circularise its orbit. It will also act as a relay for ESA’s ExoMars 2020 rover.
Schiaparelli will separate from TGO on 16 October, entering the atmosphere for a six-minute descent to a region in Meridiani Planum, on 19 October.
It will test a range of technologies to enable a controlled descent and landing on Mars in preparation for future missions, including a heatshield, a parachute, a propulsion system and a crushable structure.
Schiaparelli also carries a small science package that will record the wind speed, humidity, pressure and temperature at its landing site, as well as obtain the first measurements of electric fields on the surface of Mars that may provide insight into how dust storms are triggered.
The separation of Schiaparelli from TGO will be covered online. Media are invited to join mission experts at ESOC on 19 October to follow the orbit insertion of TGO and the landing of Schiaparelli, and to attend a briefing on 20 October when the first descent camera images are expected.
Provisional schedule at ESOC, 19–20 October
(all times in CEST, programme/times subject to change)
15:00–22:00 (Doors open at 14:00)
The event programme for media and ExoMars project members will bring both groups together to follow the highlights of the orbit insertion of TGO and of the entry, descent and landing of Schiaparelli. During the programme confirmations for mission success of TGO and Schiaparelli are expected. On stage, ExoMars engineers and scientists from ESA, Roscosmos and partner agencies will relay the technical and operational challenges of landing on Mars and will explain the scientific questions that are driving these ambitious Mars robotic exploration programme. Operational status updates will be broadcasted live from the ExoMars control room into the stage programme. There will be live video connections to an Italian ExoMars event taking place in Rome and to the postflight tour of ESA astronaut Tim Peake, who will stop by in London.
The event will also be live-streamed online at http://esa.int and will be broadcasted over satellite.
A special ESA social-TV programme will be available via Facebook Live on ESA’s Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/ESA.
10:00–11:00 (Doors open at 09:00)
This media briefing will summarise the events of the night before, during which more telemetry and data are expected to arrive from TGO and Schiaparelli. ExoMars engineers, scientists and project managers will provide briefings on TGO and Schiaparelli. Images taken during the descent from Schiaparelli will also be presented.
The media briefing will be streamed live online at http://esa.int and broadcast over satellite.
Media representatives holding a valid press-ID should register here. https://myconvento.com/public/event_register/index/1465622
Social media users such as Youtubers, Tweeps, Bloggers, etc. may apply for social media credentials at: https://myconvento.com/public/event_register/index/1465667
Given the expected high demand and limits owing to logistical, security and health and safety constraints, it is possible that not all applications will be successful. Applicants will be informed whether they have been successful at the latest on 11 October.
Separation will be reported online on 16 October at 17:20 GMT /19:20 CEST.
The media briefings scheduled for 19 and 20 October will be live streamed via http://esa.int.
Realtime coverage of operational milestones in the lead up to separation on 16 October through until landing and orbit insertion on 19 October and in the days after will be provided in a frequently updated article at http://esa.int/exomars.
Milestones will also be reported via Twitter and Facebook.
Follow @esaoperations, @ESA_TGO, @ESA_EDM and @ESA_ExoMars or #ExoMars.
A special ESA social-TV programme will be available on ESA’s Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/ESA
For detailed background information on the mission, see: http://exploration.esa.int/mars/