Scientists from the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) – who specialise in producing highly accurate topographical maps of Mars – reconstructed Watney’s route using stereo image data acquired by the High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) on board ESA’s Mars Express spacecraft.
They then compiled this data into a 3D film that shows the spectacular landscape that the protagonist would see ‘in the future’.
As the ExoMars Schiaparelli module descends onto Mars on 19 October it will capture 15 images of the approaching surface. Scientists have simulated the view we can expect to see from the descent camera.
Schiaparelli will separate from its mothership, the Trace Gas Orbiter, on 16 October, with some six million km still to travel before entering the atmosphere of Mars at 14:42 GMT three days later.
Its descent will take just under six minutes, using a heatshield, parachute, thrusters and a crushable structure for the landing.
Schiaparelli is primarily a technology demonstrator to test entry, descent and landing technologies for future missions and is therefore designed to operate for a only few days.
The small surface science package will take readings of the atmosphere, but there is no scientific camera like those found on other landers or rovers – including the ExoMars rover that is planned for launch in 2020.
The lander does, however, carry ESA’s small, 0.6 kg technical camera, a refurbished spare flight model of the Visual Monitoring Camera flown on ESA’s Herschel/Planck spacecraft to image the separation of the two craft after their joint launch.
Its role is to capture 15 black and white images during the descent that will be used to help reconstruct the module’s trajectory and its motion, as well giving context information for the final touchdown site.
The wide, 60º field-of-view will deliver a broad look at the landscape below, to maximize the chances of seeing features that will help to pinpoint the landing site and reveal Schiaparelli’s attitude and position during descent.
more : DLR
more : ESA