Seven months and 300 million miles/500 million kilometers later, Europe is finally ready to land on Mars. The ExoMars mission launched in March in collaboration with the Russia's Roscosmos space agency. Wednesday is the day the work and waiting comes to fruition (hopefully).
The mission has two goals:
- The Shiaparelli module will attempt to land on the surface of the planet as a proof of concept for a second ExoMars mission planned for 2020.
- The Trace Gas Orbiter that brought the Schiaparelli to Mars will attempt to enter orbit around the planet and scan the atmosphere for methane in search of an active source of the gas. Many sources of the gas are biological, which could indicate life on the planet.
If the Shiaparelli touches down on the Red Planet, it will mark the first time Europe has successfully landed a probe on Mars.
You can watch a live stream of the event here starting at 7:45 a.m. PT.