COVERAGE BEGINS AT 6AM EASTERN, BUT TUNE IN AT 10:40AM FOR THE “SIX MINUTES OF TERROR”
If all goes well, Europe will become the second group ever to land successfully on Mars. The European Space Agency’s Schiaparelli lander has separated from its mothership, the ExoMars Orbiter, and today the lander will descend to the surface of the red planet.
Mars is a graveyard of failed landers. To date, the U.S. is the only nation to successfully land a spacecraft on Mars and have it operate for more than a few minutes, starting with the Viking missions in 1976. But we lost plenty of landers later, as did the USSR and the United Kingdom. Now Europe will once again attempt to touch down in the red dust of the fourth planet from our sun.
Mission Control will begin livestreaming at 6am Eastern. The lander is expected to hurtle into Mars’ atmosphere at 10:42am, at a speed of about 13,000 miles per hour, for a touch down 6 minutes later. If you ever wanted to watch a bunch of aerospace geniuses bite their nails in terror, now’s your chance. You can watch it here: