After successfully pulling off a crucial technical maneuver, the ExoMars spacecraft is now two days away from making history.
The primary objective of the European Space Agency’s ExoMars mission is to determine if enough methane and other gases exist on the Martian surface to prove that life exists — or used to exist — on the Red Planet. To complete the first phase of the process for doing this, ExoMars needs to release an orbiter known as the Trace Gas Orbiter into the Martian atmosphere and safely deposit a lander called Schiaparelli on the planet’s surface. On Sunday morning, Europe’s and Russia’s two probes successfully separated from each other, a move that was necessary to successfully send each one to their intended destination. If all goes according to plan, both probes will get where they need to be on Wednesday.