When we think about space expeditions to Mars, we normally think of NASA because they are the top space organization in the world. But don’t disregard other space agencies in the world because they exist in countries beyond the United States. In fact, the European Space Agency just had an exciting story on Wednesday night after learning their Schiaparelli spacecraft is scheduled to land on Mars.
Scientists at the mission control center for the agency in Darmstadt, Germany are waiting for a signal from their probe to confirm that it landed on the Martian surface. The probe weighs 1,272 pounds and it had to make it through the Martian atmosphere at a high speed of 1,000 mph. Fortunately, they don’t anticipate there was any problem with the landing. It takes about one day for a data signal from Mars to reach the Earth. Therefore, scientists expect they’ll receive analytical data from the probe on Thursday.
A heat shield was placed on the probe to protect it from the massive heat of the atmosphere as it makes its way through. Once the probe gets through the atmosphere, about nine thrusters on the probe are set off to slow it down in the air. As it gets to 150 mph, a parachute is deployed on the probe so it can float down gently onto the rocky Martian surface. If all went well, this is the kind of information that scientists at the mission center expect to receive from the probe.
There has been a lot of interest in Mars lately. U.S. President Barack Obama believes humans will be walking on Mars in the 2030s. But it seems like other countries may want to beat the United States in being the first country to set foot on Mars.