Sunday, November 10, 2013

ESA ExoMars Rover named after Italian Mars Astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli

An instrument module set to land on Mars has been named "Schiaparelli" after the 19th century Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli, European scientists say.

The entry, descent and landing demonstrator module will fly on the 2016 ExoMars mission, a joint endeavor between the European Space Agency and Russia's Roscosmos space agency.

Schiaparelli will make a controlled landing on Mars, entering the atmosphere at 13,000 mph and using parachutes and thrusters to brake to less than 10 mph before landing less than 8 minutes later, and ESA release said Friday.

The module will collect data on the atmosphere during entry and descent, and its instruments will perform local environment measurements at the landing site in a region of plains known as Meridiani Planum.

The module's name was chosen to honour Schiaparelli, who made telescopic observations of Mars, naming what he thought were seas and continents.

He also saw what he thought were linear features on the surface, calling them canali which in Italian means channels, but the word was later mistranslated to canals.

Despite the mistaken identification of martian features, Schiaparelli's work was the first systematic investigation of the Red Planet.

"Considering the importance of Giovanni Schiaparelli's pioneering observations of Mars, it was an easy decision to give his name to the ExoMars module that is paving the way to the further exploration of the Red Planet," Alvaro Gimenez CaƱete, ESA Director of Science and Robotic Exploration (not the Spanish footballer)

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