We saw a tweet this past week from @GNU_Ninja, asking if dust storms might affect the entry, descent and landing (EDL) of the Schiaparelli demo landing module on the Red Planet’s surface on 19 October. We asked ESA’s Jorge Vago, the ExoMars Project Scientist, for a reply. You can get more background on this topic via “A stormy arrival for Schiaparelli?”
— /dev/null (@GNU_Ninja) October 6, 2016
NO, no problem. The lander has been designed to be able to cope with a global dust storm. In fact, a global dust storm would be amazing for the science package, DREAMS, on Schiaparelli, which for the first time will measure the electrification of the martian atmosphere due to dust grain friction.
On the other hand, the DECA descent camera would just snap featureless, grey images in case of any large dust storm. The dust activity peak is predicted for 29 October 2016. We therefore think it is more likely that a global dust storm may develop a couple of weeks after the landing. We look forward to having an increased dust content in the atmosphere to make DREAMS measurements more interesting – but just not too much so as to ruin the DECA images, please.
You can get more background on this topic via “A stormy arrival for Schiaparelli?”