The ExoMars 2016 mission is planned for launch at 09:31 GMT (10:31 CET) on 14 March from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Representatives of traditional and social media are invited to apply for accreditation to attend a day-long event at ESA’s 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 Schiaparelli, an entry, descent and landing demonstrator.
TGO will make a detailed inventory of Mars’ atmospheric gases, with particular interest in rare gases like methane, which implies that there is an active, current source. TGO aims to measure its geographical and seasonal dependence and help to determine whether it stems from a geological or biological source.
Meanwhile, Schiaparelli will demonstrate a range of technologies to enable a controlled landing on Mars in preparation for future missions. After a seven-month cruise, the lander will separate from the TGO on 16 October and land on Mars on 19 October, for several days of activities.
TGO will then enter orbit around the Red Planet ahead of its exciting multiyear science mission. It will also serve as a data relay for the second ExoMars mission, comprising a rover and a surface science platform, planned for launch in 2018. It will also provide data relay for NASA rovers.
TGO and Schiaparelli are undergoing final preparations in Baikonur ahead of launch in the 14–25 March window, with the first opportunity at 09:31 GMT (10:31 CET) on 14 March being targeted.
The launch of ExoMars 2016 will mark the start of a new era of Mars exploration for Europe. Members of the media and social media influencers are invited to apply for accreditation to attend a day-long event to mark the occasion.
Provisional schedule at ESOC, 14 March
(All times are approximate and in local CET. A more detailed programme and dedicated information for press will be issued closer to launch)
08:00 Doors open
09:30 Morning programme, including live launch coverage
11:55 Afternoon programme, including regular live updates on the status of the mission, a series of dedicated presentations on the scientific goals and operational challenges and milestones of the ExoMars missions, and informal question and answer sessions and interview opportunities for media/social media participants
21:10 Evening programme, including expected confirmation of spacecraft separation, solar array deployment and first acquisition of signal
22:45 End of event
How to apply
Media with valid press credentials should register here by 11 March.
For these purposes, social media representatives are defined as bloggers or other social networking users who actively collect, report, analyse and disseminate news and information on digital media platforms. Note that there is no dedicated social media event; those attending with social media accreditation will have the same access to the event as traditional/online news media. There are a limited number of places for social media participants; successful applicants will be informed by 9 March.
How to get to ESOC: http://www.esa.int/About_Us/ESOC/Getting_to_ESOC
ESA will cover the launch live via www.esa.int from 08:30 GMT (09:30 CET).
The webstream can also be followed at http://new.livestream.com/ESA/
For live updates throughout the launch period, follow @ESA_ExoMars, @esaoperations and @esascience on Twitter. Once mission controllers have established contact with TGO following the fourth stage separation and acquisition of signal, the @ESA_TGO Twitter account will become active, making this the best immediate Twitter source for up-to-date information on the status of the mission.
The official hashtag is #ExoMars
Images and animations
The latest high-resolution images and animations can be found at:
ESA’s Multimedia Gallery and http://exploration.esa.int/mars/44969-images-videos-archive/
ESA’s Photo Library for Professionals: http://www.esa-photolibrary.com
ESA’s Video Library for Professionals: http://www.esa.int/esatv/Videos_for_Professionals
Background information and news
For background information and the latest news, see: esa.int/exomars
For further information, please contact:
ESA Media Relations Office
Tel: +33 1 53 69 72 99