The Trace Gas Orbiter and Schiaparelli blasted off at 0931:42 GMT (5:31:42 a.m. EDT) from Complex 200 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome. Shortly after the fourth burn, ExoMars separated from Breeze-M and deployed its solar panels.
Luzin predicted the mission’s presumed success is likely to have benefits for Russia’s space program, which is struggling to stay competitive. “The second part of the ExoMars mission may be delayed to 2020”, said Igor Komarov, the chief of Roscosmos. In 2013, United States’ Beagle Probe disappeared, and ESA is trying to avoid these kinds of setbacks.
Dr Manish Patel, from the Open University, who is in charge of TGO’s ozone-mapping ultraviolet (UV) spectrometer instrument, said: “This is a fantastic mission, massive”.
TGO will photograph the Red Planet and analyse its air, splitting off from the lander dubbed Schiaparelli days before entering Mars’ atmosphere. Its task is to study life-hinting gases, such as methane, which is linked to life on Earth.
Its main job will be to test the descent and landing technology for ExoMars 2018, the next stage of the mission which will send a British-built rover to Mars in two years’ time.
The 660kg Schiaparelli will land on the Martian surface to collect meteorological and other types of data.
ESA said the rover landing “remains a significant challenge” however.
ExoMars, which cost the European Space Agency alone 1.3 billion euros ($1.44 billion), is the first interplanetary mission jointly undertaken by ESA and Roscomsos.
KAZAKHSTAN – Two robotic spacecraft on Monday began a seven-month journey to Mars as part of a European-Russian unmanned space mission to sniff out leads to life on the Red Planet. The second is planned for launch in 2018 and is a rover and surface science platform.
The joint investigation will involve the search for natural gases that scientists believe may be a sign of human life on Mars, The Australian reported.
“It’s been a long journey getting the first ExoMars mission to the launch pad, but thanks to the hard work and dedication of our global teams, a new era of Mars exploration is now within our reach”, Johann-Dietrich Woerner, director general of the European Space Agency, said in a statement.
Neither the ESA nor Roscosmos has the best track record when it comes to Martian missions, and for now, both space agencies are breathing a huge sigh of relief.
Traffic around Mars is about to get a bit heavier.
ExoMars is made up of 2 phases. Today’s launch brought along 2 different modules that make up the first phase: the Trace Gas Orbiter and the Entry, Descent and Landing Demonstrator Module known as “Schiaparelli”.