European space probe prepares to sniff Martian atmosphere

February 21, 2018
Mars
Credit: NASA

A European space probe has swung into position around Mars in preparation to analyze its atmosphere for possible signs of life.

The European Space Agency said Wednesday its Trace Gas Orbiter successfully performed a delicate maneuver known as aerobraking that involved dipping into the 's to slow the probe.

The agency says the orbiter will start looking for trace gases such as methane, which can result from biological or geological activity, in April. It will also search for ice that could help future Mars landings.

A NASA-made radio on board will also help relay signals from U.S. rovers on the surface back to Earth.

Europe plans to land its own rover on Mars in 2021. A European test lander crashed on the surface of Mars in 2016.

Explore further: Experimental European Mars probe set for landing on Mars (Update)

Related Stories

Mars probe enters atmosphere; word on landing awaited

October 19, 2016

The European Space Agency's experimental Schiaparelli probe entered the atmosphere of Mars on Wednesday, and scientists awaited confirmation that the craft had touched down safely. Its mother ship, which will analyze the ...

European Mars lander's fate unclear, signs 'not good'

October 20, 2016

The European Space Agency lost contact with an experimental Mars probe shortly before its planned landing on the red planet Wednesday. Scientists said that wasn't a good sign for the Schiaparelli lander, but it was too soon ...

NASA radio delivered for Europe's 2016 Mars orbiter

July 8, 2014

(Phys.org) —The first of two NASA Electra radios that will fly aboard the European Space Agency's next mission to Mars has been delivered for installation onto the ESA ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO).

Recommended for you

A quantum magnet with a topological twist

February 22, 2019

Taking their name from an intricate Japanese basket pattern, kagome magnets are thought to have electronic properties that could be valuable for future quantum devices and applications. Theories predict that some electrons ...

Good dog? Bad dog? Their personalities can change

February 22, 2019

When dog-parents spend extra time scratching their dogs' bellies, take their dogs out for long walks and games of fetch, or even when they feel constant frustration over their dogs' naughty chewing habits, they are gradually ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.