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EU-Russian Space Probe Due For Mars Landing On October 19

The Proton-M rocket, carrying the ExoMars 2016 spacecraft to Mars, blasted off from the Baikonur cosmodrome in March.

A multi-billion-dollar space lander looking for traces of life on Mars is due to touch down on the red planet on October 19 in Europe's first attempt to land a craft there in a decade.

The Schiaparelli probe's landing is part of the ExoMars project of the European Space Agency and Russia's Roscosmos.

The automated landing maneuver starts 121 kilometers above the surface with rapid braking from a speed of 21,000 kilometers an hour.

Mission Control at Darmstadt in Germany will be unable to intervene given the time delay of some 10 minutes. If all goes well, the batteries will provide power for a few days for data to be sent back to Earth from the Meridiani Planum in the Martian highlands.

Schiaparelli has a sort of webcam on its underside that will shoot 15 black-and-white photographs of the Martian surface at intervals of 1.5 seconds.

The probe left Earth from Russia's Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan in March together with the Trace Gas Orbiter, which it separated from last weekend.

The trace spacecraft is set this week to enter Mars's orbit, where it will analyze the Martian atmosphere.

Based on reporting by Reuters and dpa