ESA have uploaded special strings of commands to order its Mars lander, Schiaparelli space probe, to prepare for deploying Entry, Descent and Landing Demonstrator Module from Trace Gas Orbiter. EDM will land on Mars surface at 14:18 GMT on 19th October 2016 on Meridiani Planum in the middle of storm dust season.
It is second important point in the journey of Schiaparelli since launch on atop of Proton rocket from Baikonur Cosmodrome launch site 200/39, conducted on March 14, 2016. First was course correction performed on July 28, 2016, ordered by Mission Control Center in Korolev. MCC sent commands and ordered TGO to start its propulsion and prepare for injection into Mars orbit. This time, commands were divided to two strings and were prepared and uploaded by ESA’s mission control in Darmstadt, Germany and were already received and confirmed by TGO and EDM.
First part of commands was send on 3rd October and second on 7th October 2016. This moment is last milestone of the mission before separation of EDM from TGO planned on 14:42 GMT on 16th October 2016 and further landing at 14:18 GMT on 19th October 2016. After receiving commands, Schiaparelli will perform series of actions to prepare for deploying EDM and entering Mars orbit. Among others Schiaparelli and EDM will jettison fairings placed on the front and back to expose lander. After deploying weighing 600 kg and measuring 2.4 m of diameter EDM, it will start lasting three days journey to Mars. Next, it will be initiated on altitude of 122.5 km over Red Planet, just few hours before landing. It will start its onboard sensors including radar, which will start to scan surface of landing zone on altitude of 7 km; it will deploy parachute on altitude of 11 km for reducing speed from 1700 km/h to 250 km/h, start procedure of testing landing devices (which will be used in next ExoMars mission planned for 2020), jettison front heat shield and turn on three thrusters fueled with hydrazine (400 N of thrust each) on altitude of 1100 m to control EDM during touchdown.
Uploaded commands will also initiate testing procedure of onboard devices and research instruments after landing. Some of the commands will also determine behavior of TGO after deploying – on 17th October, 12 hours after deploying EDM, it will enter Mars atmosphere to start one year period of maneuvers conducted under the influence of Mars gravity, planned to stabilize flight and enter correct circular orbit. Mission of TGO will start in 2017, while EDM mission will finish probably after 48 hours from landing, after onboard batteries will discharge.