The more we know about Mars...

Cosmos - - Front Page - HOLODECK: COM­PILED BY JAMES MITCHELL CROW

THE SCHI­A­PAR­ELLI PROBE made head­lines in Oc­to­ber 2016 when it crash-landed on Mars. It wasn’t a dis­as­ter, though, it was mainly a prac­tice run for the Euro­pean Space Agency’s next mis­sion to the red planet: de­liv­ery of a craft bear­ing the science sta­tion and rover, sched­uled for 2020. The main game of the Schi­a­par­elli probe – the “Ex­o­mars” mis­sion – was to de­ploy the moth­er­ship, the 13th of an in­ter­na­tional fleet of ships spy­ing on Mars. Known as the Trace Gas Or­biter ( TGO), its goal is to sniff out meth­ane, a po­ten­tial sig­na­ture of life. The gas has been de­tected by pre­vi­ous or­biters, the Cu­rios­ity Rover and Earth-based tele­scopes. But where the plumes came from was im­pos­si­ble to say. TGO’S in­stru­ments will pin­point the source with a thou­sand-fold greater ac­cu­racy than ever be­fore.

CREDIT: ARTIST’S IM­PRES­SION / ESA / D. DUCROS

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