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European Space Agency Announces Budgetary Commitments

Posted by Ruth McAvinia on 2016/12/07 12:31 CST | 1 comments

ESA has committed to continuing its ExoMars programme and participation with the International Space Station, but cut funding for its Asteroid Impact Mission.

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Schiaparelli investigation update; crash site in color from HiRISE

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/11/23 11:28 CST | 11 comments

ESA issued an update on the Schiaparelli landing investigation today, identifying a problem reading from an inertial measurement unit as the proximate cause of the crash. Meanwhile, ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter is operating its science instruments for the first time this week, and HiRISE has released calibrated versions of the Schiaparelli crash site images.

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What's up in the solar system, November 2016 edition: Cassini takes a leap, ExoMars starts science, Long March 5 launch

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/11/01 03:35 CDT | 2 comments

Cassini is going to make a major change to its orbit, getting much close to Saturn, setting up 20 "F-ring" orbits. ExoMars will get two science orbits before beginning aerobraking. Long March 5 will have its first launch, while many Earth-observing missions, including Himawari-9 and GOES-R, will go up. But Juno science is on hold.

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Schiaparelli crash site imaged by HiRISE

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/10/27 11:43 CDT | 1 comments

Following up the detection of the Schiaparelli crash site by Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter CTX, the higher-resolution HiRISE camera has now definitively identified the locations of lander impact site, parachute with backshell, and heat shield impact site on the Martian surface.

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Likely Schiaparelli crash site imaged by Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/10/21 05:56 CDT | 8 comments

Just a day after the arrival of ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter and its lander Schiaparelli, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has taken a photo of the landing site with its Context Camera, and things do not look good.

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ExoMars: Schiaparelli Analysis to Continue

Posted by Ruth McAvinia on 2016/10/20 12:05 CDT | 5 comments

The fate of the ExoMars lander, Schiaparelli, remains uncertain. European Space Agency mission controllers had been optimistic on Wednesday night that a definitive answer would be known by Thursday morning’s news briefing. However, although some more details have been made public about the lander’s descent, it is not yet clear whether it hit the martian surface at a speed it could not survive.

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Brief update: Opportunity's attempt to image Schiaparelli unsuccessful

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/10/19 05:35 CDT | 6 comments

Today, the Opportunity rover attempted a difficult, never-before-possible feat: to shoot a photo of an arriving Mars lander from the Martian surface. Unfortunately, that attempt seems not to have succeeded. Opportunity has now returned the images from the observation attempt, but Schiaparelli is not visible.

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ExoMars: Long day’s journey into uncertainty

Posted by Ruth McAvinia on 2016/10/19 03:04 CDT | 2 comments

Trace Gas Orbit is successfully in orbit at Mars, but the fate of the Schiaparelli lander is uncertain.

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ExoMars update: Timeline for separation and orbit insertion

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/10/14 11:51 CDT | 3 comments

Schiaparelli is GO for landing, and ExoMars TGO is GO for orbit insertion! When to expect ExoMars events: Schiaparelli separation, final trajectory maneuvers, landing events, orbit insertion, and press briefings.

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ExoMars arrives soon!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/10/11 01:37 CDT | 3 comments

ESA's ExoMars will arrive at Mars on Wednesday, October 19, with Schiaparelli touching down in Meridiani Planum, and the Trace Gas Orbiter entering orbit while Mars Express watches.

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What's up in the solar system, October 2016 edition: ExoMars arrives!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/10/04 06:42 CDT | 2 comments

ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter arrives on October 19, and it will deliver the Schiaparelli lander to its brief life on the Martian surface. Juno's headed into its science orbit, MOM has released science data, and New Horizons will finally finish downlinking Pluto flyby data.

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What's up in the solar system, August 2016 edition: Juno to get Jupiter close-ups, Rosetta descending, road-tripping rovers

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/07/29 02:35 CDT | 5 comments

This month we'll finally see JunoCam's first high-resolution images of Jupiter. We'll also see OSIRIS-REx making progress toward its September 8 launch. Both rovers are road-tripping at Mars, while ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter has completed a major mid-course correction ahead of its October arrival.

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ExoMars sights Mars

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/06/16 12:26 CDT

Today ESA released ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter's first photo of Mars, taken from a distance of 41 million kilometers. It's no more detail than you can get through a pair of a binoculars, just a little taste of what's to come.

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What's up in the solar system, May 2016 edition: Good news in cruise for Juno and ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/05/03 11:17 CDT | 5 comments

May 2016 will be yet another month of fairly routine operations across the solar system -- if you can ever use the word "routine" to describe autonomous robots exploring other planets. ExoMars' cruise to Mars has started smoothly, and Juno is only two months away from Jupiter orbit insertion. Earthlings will witness a Mercury transit of the Sun on May 9.

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ExoMars launch successful! What to expect for the Trace Gas Orbiter and Schiaparelli missions

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/03/14 04:30 CDT | 1 comments

The ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter and Schiaparelli lander are safely on their way to Mars! The two lifted off at 9:31 UTC today, March 14, 2016. Orbiter and lander will arrive at Mars on October 19 at approximately 16:00 UTC. The lander is expected to last about 3 days. The orbiter will spend a year aerobraking before beginning its science mission.

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ExoMars: Prepare for launch!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/03/10 10:28 CST | 5 comments

ESA's ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter and Schiaparelli lander are in the final preparations for a launch as early as Monday, toward an October 2016 Mars orbit insertion and landing in Meridiani Planum. Launch on a Proton rocket is expected at 09:31:42 UT Monday, March 14. A Breeze-M upper stage will send the spacecraft on to Mars, with separation at 20:13 UT.

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What's up in solar system exploration: March 2016 edition

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/02/29 02:45 CST | 4 comments

Welcome to my monthly inventory of the 20-plus spacecraft actively exploring our solar system. Highlights of this month include the impending launch of the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter and Schiaparelli lander, currently planned for March 14, and the resumption of regular VMC Mars images by Mars Express.

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ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter and Schiaparelli lander travel safely to Baikonur

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/12/28 03:14 CST | 3 comments

Europe's second mission to Mars has begun its journey from its birthplace in Cannes to its planned arrival at Mars on October 19. Since December 17 we've been able to watch every step of its journey via Twitter.

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ESA mission updates

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/11/04 07:15 CST

There have been several important pieces of news about European missions in the last month: Rosetta's fate has been determined; ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter's launch is slightly delayed; and they have selected a landing site for the ExoMars rover.

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Four mission assembly progress reports: ExoMars TGO, InSight, OSIRIS-REx, and BepiColombo

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/05/28 06:12 CDT | 4 comments

2015 has seen few deep-space-craft launches, but 2016 is shaping up to be a banner year with three launches, followed quickly by a fourth in early 2017. All of the missions under development have reported significant milestones recently.

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