Watch Mars mission – which will pave the way for Stevenage built rover – touch down on the Red Planet

The Schiaparelli lander is expected to touch down on Mars tomorrow

The Schiaparelli lander is expected to touch down on Mars tomorrow - Credit: Archant

A spacecraft will touch down on the planet Mars later today, bringing the day a Stevenage built Mars rover will itself land on the Red Planet one step closer.

Propelled by a Russian rocket, the European built lander will begin sending data from the surface which will help determine the kinds of conditions the Stevenage Mars rover will face when it touches down in 2020.

It is named after the Italian Giovanni Schiaparelli, one of the first people to map the planet’s surface in the late 1800s.

Scientists and technicians at Airbus Defence and Space in the town are waiting expectantly for the lander to make its descent on the first ever major European Space Agency landing on Mars.

Airbus scientist Liz Seward told the Comet: “The lander will send back huge amounts of data which will improve the chances of our Mars rover lading.

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“It will relay data as it descends to the surface and then tell us more about the conditions the rover will face on the surface of Mars.

“When the rover lands on Mars in 2020 it will drillinto the surface and look for signs of ancient life on the planet and help to pave the way for future return missions and eventually a manned mission.”

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Ms Seward added: “It’s one of the most exciting projects we’re running here at Stevenage.

“The scientists get to work in the Mars yard which means they’re effectively working on Mars.”

In January the firm will launch its visitor centre which will allow visitors and school groups to follow the progress of the Mars rover.

You can watch the landing here.

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