The ExoMars Launch Was A Resounding Success

The ExoMars Launch Was a Resounding Success

After more than twelve hours of nail-biting anticipation, the European Space Agency's ExoMars probe has finally phoned home, confirming that yesterday's launch was a complete success. The mission is now safely on its way to Mars. ExoMars is an ambitious new endeavour to hunt for signs of alien life on the Red Planet, managed jointly by the European Space Agency (ESA) and Roscosmos. The mission's 2016 phase includes a Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) that will search for methane and other compounds of possible biological origin in Mars' lower atmosphere, and a Schiaparelli entry, descent and landing module, which will demonstrate complex landing technology for a larger, ground-based ExoMars rover slated to ship off in 2018.

The Russin Proton rocket bearing the two spacecraft launched at 8:31pm AEDT (5:31am EDT) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. But it took 12 hours to complete the complex series of orbital maneuvers needed to boost ExoMars out of Earth's gravity well. After the Proton's first, second and third stage separated, a Breeze-M upper stage performed four engine burns throughout the course of the afternoon and evening. Shortly after the fourth burn, ExoMars separated from Breeze-M and deployed its solar panels. And moments ago, the European Space Operations Center in Darmstadt, Germany received the TGO's phone call, confirming that the maneuvers were successful.

Neither the ESA nor Roscosmos has the best track record when it comes to Martian missions, and for now, both space agencies are breathing a huge sigh of relief. But it will take another seven months for ExoMars to reach the Red Planet, and from there, we've got another year until the TGO begins collecting scientific data. Plenty of hurdles remain before ExoMars can be called a true success — but at least for now, it's headed in the right direction.

To celebrate today's spaceflight victory, here are a few beautiful photos of the launch, taken in Kazakhstan this morning:

The ExoMars Launch Was a Resounding Success

Image Credit: ESA — Stephane Corvaja

The ExoMars Launch Was a Resounding Success

Image Credit: ESA — Stephane Corvaja

The ExoMars Launch Was a Resounding Success

Image Credit: ESA — Stephane Corvaja

The ExoMars Launch Was a Resounding Success

Image Credit: ESA — Stephane Corvaja

The ExoMars Launch Was a Resounding Success

Image Credit: ESA — Stephane Corvaja

Top image: ExoMars 2016 lifted off on a Proton-M rocket from Baikonur, Kazakhstan at 09:31 GMT on 14 March 2016. Image Credit: ESA — Stephane Corvaja

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    Seriously Gizmodo?

    No mention of the "Mars Orbital Mission"?

    Is this willful selective memory? or just lack of attention to the rest of the world?

    Methane Sensor for Mars (MSM) does the exact same thing.

    Even if the new sensor is better, you should still have mentioned the first/Indian mission.

    Disgraceful (racism?).

      Hi, I honestly don't know what you expect -- this story is about the ESA mission and not any other mission, Indian or otherwise.

      Why would they have mentioned the Mars Orbiter Mission? It's last year's news and completely and utterly irrelevant to this story. They didn't mention ESA's other Mars mission, either, and Mars Explorer has been sending back useful data for more than 12 years now.

      ExoMars is a way, way more impressive effort because they are landing a rover on the surface. All the Indians did was send a satellite to orbit which, let's be honest, has been done by everyone else already.

        Not trying to nit pick but-

        " utterly irrelevant to this story"

        Both missions have similar objectives (among other)

        "has been done by everyone else already"

        ISRO is the fourth space agency to reach Mars, after the Soviet space program, NASA, and the European Space Agency. It is the first Asian nation to reach Mars orbit, and the first nation (IF ESA is not considered a nation) in the world to do so in its first attempt. Failure rate of the other Mars missions is around 40%. Not one space agency got there without a failure first.

        I am not belittling the ESA mission. Of course it is technologically more advanced than Mangalyan. But consider the fact that Mangalyan was mostly done by one country with a budget of about 75 million$.

        All I am saying is, You could say there are at least three other missions currently looking for methane on Mars and the current mission is better than them because.....

          Sure, and you could say Voyager has left the Solar System and a thousand other facts that might be related to this space mission, or you could mention none of them and concentrate on the mission at hand, which is what they did. It's an article about ExoMars, not about missions to Mars in general.

          $75 million goes a long way with slave labour

    Well, this was posted 3 days ago. Speaks about significance of methane detection and also talks about MAVEN which is a US/NASA mission with similar goals.

    Going by the same yardstick, that this was a "ESA mission", MAVEN was what?

    MAVEN and MOM where launched and reached their orbits around Mars around the same time. MAVEN, MOM and the new ESA mission all have the goal of detecting Methane.

    You would mention MAVEN and ESA but selectively forget MOM ha !!

      I think you're being a bit paranoid; there's no selective forgetting here. Cool your jets.

      Never go full retard.

      Last edited 16/03/16 11:26 am

      put the crack pipe down mate.

      Who cares what other space mission was or wasn't mentioned. The one that did just happen is this one and that's what we are talking about.

    This is such an important thing to do.
    Billions of years ago our predessors breached themselves out of the seas and learned how to live on dry land, hence us.
    We need to take this a small step furthur, and learn how to live on another planet.

    This is why we are here.

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