An experimental lander from the European Space Agency is making its final descent toward Mars, preparing for a controlled landing on Wednesday.
The Schiaparelli probe is named after the Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli, who observed and mapped the surface of Mars. It’s part of a joint operation between the ESA and the Russian space program called ExoMars.
There was a moment of alarm when, after separating from the ship, Schiaparelli didn’t send the expected signals back to scientists on earth. It did send back a “carrier signal” to show it was operational, but didn’t communicate any telemetry data about its status or location.
But within a couple of hours, a full telemetry link was restored, ESA says. A spokeswoman told the AFP there were “a lot of relieved people” at mission control in Germany.