Europe

Experimental European space lander to begin descent to Mars

  • In this artist impression provided by the European Space Agency, ESA, the  ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter , TGO, right, and its entry, descent and landing demonstrator module, Schiaparelli, center, approaching Mars. The separation is scheduled to occur on Sunday Oct. 16, 2016, about seven months after launch. Schiaparelli is set to enter the martian atmosphere on Oct. 19, 2016 while TGO will enter orbit around Mars. The probe will take images of Mars and conduct scientific measurements on the surface, but its main purpose is to test technology for a future European Mars rover.  Schiaparelli's mother ship will remain in orbit to analyze gases in the Martian atmosphere to help answer whether there is or was life on Mars. (ESA ATG/medialab via AP)

    In this artist impression provided by the European Space Agency, ESA, the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter , TGO, right, and its entry, descent and landing demonstrator module, Schiaparelli, center, approaching Mars. The separation is scheduled to occur on Sunday Oct. 16, 2016, about seven months after launch. Schiaparelli is set to enter the martian atmosphere on Oct. 19, 2016 while TGO will enter orbit around Mars. The probe will take images of Mars and conduct scientific measurements on the surface, but its main purpose is to test technology for a future European Mars rover. Schiaparelli's mother ship will remain in orbit to analyze gases in the Martian atmosphere to help answer whether there is or was life on Mars. (ESA ATG/medialab via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • Artist’s impression provided by the European Space Agency, ESA, depicting the separation of the ExoMars 2016 entry, descent and landing demonstrator module, named Schiaparelli, center,  from the Trace Gas Orbiter, TGO,lrft,  and heading for Mars.  The separation is scheduled to occur on Sunday Oct. 16, 2016, about seven months after launch. Schiaparelli is set to enter the martian atmosphere on Oct. 19, 2016 while TGO will enter orbit around Mars. The probe will take images of Mars and conduct scientific measurements on the surface, but its main purpose is to test technology for a future European Mars rover.  Schiaparelli's mother ship will remain in orbit to analyze gases in the Martian atmosphere to help answer whether there is or was life on Mars.  (ESA/D. Ducros via AP)

    Artist’s impression provided by the European Space Agency, ESA, depicting the separation of the ExoMars 2016 entry, descent and landing demonstrator module, named Schiaparelli, center, from the Trace Gas Orbiter, TGO,lrft, and heading for Mars. The separation is scheduled to occur on Sunday Oct. 16, 2016, about seven months after launch. Schiaparelli is set to enter the martian atmosphere on Oct. 19, 2016 while TGO will enter orbit around Mars. The probe will take images of Mars and conduct scientific measurements on the surface, but its main purpose is to test technology for a future European Mars rover. Schiaparelli's mother ship will remain in orbit to analyze gases in the Martian atmosphere to help answer whether there is or was life on Mars. (ESA/D. Ducros via AP)  (The Associated Press)

The European Space Agency is dispatching an experimental probe on the final leg of its mission to land on Mars.

The Schiaparelli space lander is to separate from its mother ship at 1442 GMT (10:42 EDT) Sunday in preparation for a controlled descent to the red planet Wednesday.

The probe will take images of Mars and conduct scientific measurements on the surface, but its main purpose is to test technology for a future European Mars rover.

ESA's last attempted Mars landing with the Beagle 2 rover failed in 2003.

Schiaparelli's mother ship will remain in orbit to analyze gases in the Martian atmosphere to help answer whether there is or was life on Mars.

The ExoMars mission is a joint venture between ESA and Russia's Roscosmos space agency.