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ESA Space Science

Surfing complete

21 Feb 2018, 10:00 UTC
Surfing complete ESA–D. Ducros

Slowed by skimming through the very top of the upper atmosphere, ESA’s ExoMars has lowered itself into a planet-hugging orbit and is about ready to begin sniffing the Red Planet for methane.

The ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter arrived at Mars in October 2016 to investigate the potentially biological or geological origin of trace gases in the atmosphere.

It will also serve as a relay, connecting rovers on the surface with their controllers on Earth.

But before any of this could get underway, the spacecraft had to transform its initial, highly elliptical four-day orbit of about 98 000 x 200 km into the final, much lower and circular path at about 400 km.

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