[Satnews] The ExoMars 2016-Mission, including the Trace Gas Orbiter and Schiaparelli, was launched on March 14th at 09:31 GMT (10:31 CET) aboard a Russian Proton rocket from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
ExoMars2016 is a joint endeavor between ESA and Russia’s Roscosmos space agency, and comprises the Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) and Schiaparelli, an entry, descent and landing demonstrator.
As a part of the European industrial team, OHB System AG was responsible for developing the core module of the TGO, which comprises the structure as well as the thermal and propulsion system for the 2016 mission. The prime contractor Thales Alenia Space Italia is leading the industrial team with contractors from many ESA Member and Cooperating States, while OHB System, as member of the core industrial team, is responsible for the major German contribution to ExoMars.
The 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 its geographical and seasonal dependence and help to determine whether it stems from a geological or biological source.
Meanwhile, Schiaparelli will demonstrate a range of technologies to enable a controlled landing on Mars in preparation for the future mission. After a seven-month cruise, the lander will separate from the TGO on October 16 and land on Mars on October 19 for several days of activities.
TGO will then enter orbit around the Red Planet ahead of its exciting multiyear science mission. It will also serve as a data relay for the second ExoMars-Mission, comprising a rover and a surface science platform, planned for launch in 2018. The launch of ExoMars 2016 marks the beginning of a new era of Mars exploration for Europe.