A new visitor has shown up on the Red Planet's doorstep, and its arrival is imminent.
Mars is starting to get a little crowded. Now, a European Space Agency spacecraft is set to join other spacecraft either circling around the Red Planet or driving around on it on Sunday, Oct. 16.
The Schiaparelli module separated from its carrier craft, the Trace Gas Orbiter, at around 10:42 a.m. eastern time on Sunday, and it is on its way to the Martian surface after its 308 million mile journey, according to news reports and a statement from the European Space Agency.
The Trace Gas Orbiter and the module will arrive at Mars on Oct. 19, in which they will enter orbit, and Schiaparelli will drop down onto the Martian surface as the TGO stays in orbit.
And more spacecraft will be coming. The ExoMars projects aims to send a rover and surface science station to Mars in 2020 to help in the search for life.
The statement reads: “The ExoMars 2016 mission will enter orbit around the Red Planet on 19 October. At the same time, its Schiaparelli lander will descend to the surface. Representatives of traditional and social media are invited to attend a two-day event at ESA’s ESOC control centre in Darmstadt, Germany. ExoMars is a joint endeavour between ESA and Russia’s Roscosmos space agency, and comprises the Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) and the Schiaparelli entry, descent and landing demonstrator.”