In March 2016, the European Space Agency in partnership with Roscosmos will launch the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter. This orbiter will also carry an Entry, Descent, and Landing Demonstration Module (EDM): a lander designed primarily to demonstrate the capability to land on Mars. The EDM will survive for only a few days, running on battery power, but will make a few environmental measurements.
The landing site is the flattest, safest place on Mars: part of Meridiani Planum, close to where the Opportunity rover landed. This image shows what this terrain is like: very flat and featureless! A full-resolution sample reveals the major surface features : small craters and wind ripples. HiRISE has been imaging the landing site region in advance of the landing, and will re-image the site after landing to identify the major pieces of hardware: heat shield, backshell with parachute, and the lander itself. The distribution of these pieces will provide information about the entry, descent and landing.
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Written by: Alfred McEwen (25 November 2015)
This is a stereo pair with ESP_034986_1785 .
More info and image formats at http://hirise.lpl.arizona.edu/ESP_042806_1785
Image: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona