ESA makes historic attempt to land on Mars

Constantino Panagopulos

The live stream is over. Get the latest on the fate of ESA's lander and news from their methane-sniffing Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) at the ExoMars website

The European Space Agency (ESA) will attempt to make history today when the ExoMars Schiaparelli lander begins its hair-raising descent to Mars.

The lander is expected to enter the Martian atmosphere at 21,000 km/h when it will begin a short series of manoeuvres to reduce its speed to zero in under 6 minutes! The intrepid lander will brave re-entry temperatures of several thousand degrees, a rapid parachute descent, and a thrust-assisted landing that will end with a hopefully graceful 2m drop to the surface. Expected touchdown is 17:48, Istanbul time.

If successful, this will be the ESA’s first successful landing on Mars, and the only successful mission to the surface of Mars by an agency other than NASA. Although Schiaparelli’s science package is limited, the landing will act as a test bed for ESA’s ambitious ExoMars in 2020. The 2020 mission will look for evidence of past or present life on the surface of Mars.

The LiveStream begins at 16:00, Turkey time. To find out more about the ExoMars missions check out the ESA ExoMars website