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Animation: Schiaparelli’s descent to Mars

Computer-generated animation of the descent of the Schiaparelli lander to the surface of Mars. Real one will happen this Wednesday, October 19.

This is a very cool, real-time animation of ExoMars Schiaparelli module entering and descending through the atmosphere to land in Meridiani Planum, a region close to the equator of the planet Mars.

The real thing will happen this Wednesday, October 19, 2016.

The animation follows a simulated timeline of the module, starting when it enters the atmosphere at an altitude of 75 miles (121 km) at 1442 UTC (10:42 a.m. ET); translate to your time zone.

Over its six minutes of descent, Schiaparelli will use a heatshield, parachute and thrusters to brake from 13,000 miles per hour (21,000 km/h) to a near standstill about 6 feet (2 meters) above Mars’ surface. At that point, a crushable structure on its underside will absorb the final shock.

The key operational milestones are highlighted in the animation at the predicted times at which they have been calculated to occur. However, the actual times may vary depending on the atmospheric conditions on the day, the final path through the atmosphere and the speed at which the module descends.

The times indicated in the animation are onboard spacecraft times at Mars. The one-way signal travel time on October 19 is just under 10 minutes, meaning that signals relayed by spacecraft at Mars are received on Earth about 10 minutes after the event itself has happened on the Red Planet.

Both Schiaparelli and the Mars scenery in this animation are computer-generated.

Bottom line: Computer-generated animation of the descent of the Schiaparelli lander to the surface of Mars on October 19, 2016.

Deborah Byrd

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