If all goes well, NASA is about to lose its bragging rights as the only space agency to successfully land probes on the Red Planet.
ExoMars, an astrobiology mission designed to hunt for signs of geologic and biological activity on Mars, is on track to reach orbit on October 19th. When it arrives, the mission’s two components-a Trace Gas Orbiter and a Schiaparelli lander-will part ways.
Landing on Mars is hard, and neither the ESA nor the Russians have a great track record.
So while everyone is hoping to stick the landing next week, failure to do so is not a catastrophe.