Later this month, scientists and engineers will meet to choose which two, of four possible landing sites for the ExoMars 2018 mission, should be retained as candidates.
ExoMars is a joint two-mission endeavour between ESA and Russia’s Roscosmos space agency. The Trace Gas Orbiter and an entry, descent and landing demonstrator module, known as Schiaparelli, will be launched in March 2016, arriving at Mars seven months later. The rover and surface platform will depart in 2018, with touchdown on Mars in 2019.
The search for a suitable landing site for the second mission began in December 2013, when the science community was asked to propose candidates. In October 2014, four candidates were chosen by the Landing Site Selection Working Group. Meeting at the European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC) in the Netherlands this month, experts must select the two candidate sites that conform best to both the engineering constraints of descent and landing, and the best possible scientific return of the mission. [More at link]