A realtime animation of the European Space Agency’s ExoMars Schiaparelli module entering and descending through the atmosphere to land on Mars. The animation starts when the lander enters the atmosphere at an altitude of 121 km at 14:42 GMT. In six minutes it will use a heatshield, parachute and thrusters to brake from 21,000 km/h to a near standstill 2 metres above the surface, where a crushable structure on its underside will absorb the final shock.
Early risers will already be aware that there’s currently a lot of planetary activity in the morning sky, but at dawn in Western Europe on Monday, 2 April, Mars and Saturn will be just 1¼ degrees apart and seen in the same field of view of telescopes at 30x magnification. The waning Moon is close by on the mornings of 7 & 8 April too.
While not bursting with activity like its sister moon Enceladus, the surface of Saturn’s moon Dione is definitely not boring. Some parts of the surface are covered by linear features, called chasmata — bright icy cliffs among myriad fractures — which provide dramatic contrast to the round impact craters that typically cover moons.