di Davide Marchetta
Rome, October 19 - The European ExoMars mission's Schiaparelli lander has "woken up", with a weak signal received by the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT) in Pune, India on Wednesday. The signal indicates that the lander is preparing for its descent onto the planet Mars, said the European Space Agency (ESA), which is coordinating the mission with the Russian space agency Roscosmos. The Schiaparelli lander had gone into "hibernation" to save energy following its separation from the TGO (Trace Gas Orbiter) lander. Its on-board computer and instruments are now back on, which will permit the lander to perform a complete control of conditions during its six-minute descent, while also capturing information on the Red Planet. The lander is expected to enter the Mars atmosphere at 16:42 Italian time and to touch down on Mars soil at 16:48, when the GMRT could receive another signal. Schiaparelli was made possible by financial and scientific contributions from the Italian Space Agency and was designed and built by Thales Alenia Space Italia/Thales - Leonardo Finmeccanica. Its instruments were created by the National Astrophysics Institute (INAF) and the National Nuclear Physics Institute (INFN).