|Image Source: ESA Space Science|
(Oct 16) A Mars lander left its mothership on Sunday after a seven-month journey from Earth and headed toward the red planet's surface to test technologies for Europe's planned first Mars rover, which will search for signs of past and present life.
The disc-shaped 577-kilogramme (1,272 lb) Schiaparelli lander separated from the spacecraft Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) at 1442 GMT (10:42 a.m. EDT) as expected, starting a three-day descent to the surface.
Signals received from TGO, which is to orbit Mars and sniff out gases around the planet, did not at first contain data on the lander's onboard status, but the European Space Agency (ESA) later said the link with the craft had been restored.
Reuters: European-led Mars lander starts descent to red planet
Reporting by Maria Sheahan; Editing by Dominic Evans, Greg Mahlich