Schiaparelli, the latest mission to Mars, is designed primarily as a testing space craft for future ESA (European Space Agency) projects technology.
It is also going to be testing for some forms of Martian electromagnetic phenomena.
The European Schiaparelli probe may have to contend with relatively dusty conditions when it arrives at Mars. The spacecraft is aiming to make a dump-down on the planet’s Meridiani Plain a week on Wednesday. US researchers have suggested sand particles could soon start lifting into the atmosphere - something they do on a regular, seasonal basis. “We always knew we could arrive in a dust storm and Schiaparelli was designed with that possibility in mind,” said Esa project scientist, Jorge Vago.
“And from the point of view of getting data on the electrification of dusty atmospheres, it could be very nice,” he told BBC News. Schiaparelli is carrying to Mars the first ever instrument dedicated to this purpose.
Schiaparelli Mars probe 'ready for all eventualities' | BBC
Electric wind in the Martian sails
As more and more scientific experimental conclusions and modified theories appear to include words, phrases and ideas that seem to be getting more electrified in their nature, the Schiaparelli experimental surface instruments are looking into the electrical nature of the dust storms on Mars.
DREAMS (Dust Characterisation, Risk Assessment, and Environment Analyser on the Martian Surface) has an instrument called MicroARES (Atmospheric Radiation and Electricity Sensor) that has been designed to look into Mars atmospheric electrification.
As Schiaparelli is only a testing mission for ESA's ExoMars Programme, the DREAMS experiments may only be collecting data for 2 to 8 days, if it survives the entry and landing to Mars.
DREAMS will provide the first measurements of electric fields on the surface of Mars (with MicroARES). Combined with measurements (from SIS) of the concentration of atmospheric dust, DREAMS will provide new insights into the role of electric forces on dust lifting, the mechanism that initiates dust storms.
In addition, the DREAMS-H sensor will complement MicroARES measurements with critical data about humidity; this will enable scientists understand better the dust electrification process.
Schiaparelli science package and science investigations | ESA