Schiaparelli is Europe’s second attempt to land on Mars after a failed mission by the British landing craft Beagle 2 in 2003.
Once its supersonic parachute opens, a front shield falls away and a radar system starts monitoring the spacecraft’s altitude above the ground.
Then, the parachute and rear shield are jettisoned, allowing Schiaparelli’s propulsion systems to ignite and bring the craft down safely, cushioned by a crushable structure.
Until now, only the Americans have succeeded in operating on Mars. NASA has two functioning rovers, Opportunity has been there since 2004 while Curiosity has been working since 2012; both are searching for signs of life on the red planet, most notably water.
Europe and Russia’s programme is a two-part mission, the second delayed to 2020, will deliver a European rover to the Martian surface, a rover capable of drilling into the ground and collecting samples for analysis. http://www.euronews.com/