After a seven-month, 35-million-mile journey from Earth, a Mars lander on Sunday departed its mothership and was dispatched towards 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 1,272-pound Schiaparelli lander separated from spacecraft Trace Gas Orbiter at 10:42 a.m. EST, as expected, starting a three-day descent to the surface. Ground controllers, however, reported a lapse in data communication with the probe break and were working to fix the issue.
We have to receive and process this telemetry (data) first and after that we can say what has happened. But on the side of (Schiaparelli) I would say that the separation was a success.Paolo Ferri, head of mission operations at the European Space Agency
Schiaparelli's main goal is to test entry and landing gear and technology for a subsequent rover which will mark the second phase and highlight of the ExoMars mission. Thirteen years after its first, failed, attempt to place a rover on Mars, the high-stakes test is a key phase in Europe's fresh bid to reach our neighboring planet's hostile surface, this time working with Russia.