The European Space Agency (ESA) today announced that the landing module for its 2016 ExoMars mission has been officially named “Schiaparelli.” The name refers to 19th century astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli.
Schiaparelli is best known for describing the surface features of the planet Mars. He was also the first astronomer to determine the relationship between comet debris and yearly meteor showers.
“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,” said Alvaro Giménez, director of Science and Robotic Exploration at ESA.
The Schiaparelli landing module will be part of the ExoMars mission to Mars in 2016. The lander will test technologies developed for landing a rover on Mars in 2018. Much like NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory, the Schiaparelli module will use parachutes and thrusters to control its decent to the Martian surface. The module will also collect atmospheric and local data from its landing site.
“Schiaparelli’s dedication to planetary science and to the communication of science was recognised worldwide and, as such, we want to celebrate his achievements by naming a key part of the ExoMars mission after him,” said Rolf de Groot, Coordinator for Robotic Exploration at ESA.
(Image courtesy ESA/AOES Medialab)