October 19, 2016

ExoMars 2016: TGO enters Martian orbit

The ExoMars 2016 mission’s Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) was successfully captured into Martian orbit Wednesday 19 October. However, the landing of Schiaparelli had still not been confirmed at the end of our video broadcast of the event. The mission’s engineers were set to spend the night poring over data acquired by various satellites orbiting Mars to track down the tiny lander.

Schiaparelli landing

  • Venue: Cité de l'Espace, Toulouse
  • Co-mediated by Michel Viso (CNES) and Philippe Droneau (Cité de l'Espace)
  • In the presence of: André Debus, ExoMars project leader at CNES, Julien Annaloro, ICOTOM instrument manager at CNES, Arnaud Boutonnet (ESA) and Sylvestre Maurice (IRAP)
  • CNES broadcast starts: 17:45
  • CNES broadcast ends: 20:45



Next mission milestones

•    17 October 2016: final trajectory correction manoeuvres and preparation for orbit insertion
•    19 October 2016: main engine fires to insert TGO into highly elliptical four-day Martian orbit and landing of Schiaparelli
•    January 2017: aerobraking manoeuvres start to take TGO into a 400-km, one-day circular orbit
•    17 January 2017: TGO manoeuvres to incline orbit 74°
•    November 2017: TGO in circular orbit to start recording atmospheric science data
•    December 2017 - December 2019: TGO science mission to study Mars’ atmosphere

From December 2017, TGO will also be in position to relay data to Earth from NASA’s rovers operating on the surface of Mars, and later from the ExoMars 2020 mission’s rover when it arrives in April 2021.

ExoMars 2016 is laying the first stone of the ExoMars 2020 mission with TGO, which will serve as a relay satellite for the 2020 platform. Lessons learned from ExoMars 2016 will also form the foundation for the 2020 mission.

The role of CNES and French laboratories

For the 2016 mission, CNES worked with ESA on the entry, descent and landing phase, and supplied the ICOTOM sensor on Schiaparelli. Research laboratories contributed to the development of these instruments and are helping to analyse science data acquired by TGO and the instruments on Schiaparelli.

CNES and French research laboratories are supplying two instruments for the 2020 mission’s rover: MicroOmega, a spectrometer capable of imaging in the visible and infrared, and WISDOM, a radar to study and characterize the structure of the subsoil.

France is also contributing to other instruments—MOMA, RLS and CLUPI—being developed by other ESA member nations. Lastly, CNES is supplying visual navigation software for the 2020 rover.

ExoMars video

About ExoMars

ExoMars is a Mars exploration programme with both science and technology objectives. It is a joint initiative of the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Russian federal space agency Roscosmos comprising two missions, ExoMars 2016 and ExoMars 2020. ExoMars 2016 was launched on 14 March. ExoMars 2020 will be launched between late July and early August 2020. CNES is providing some 15% of funding for this ESA programme as well as technical contributions.