Tags: schiaparelli | mars | lander | crater

Schiaparelli Mars Lander Leaves Crater on Planet's Surface

Image: Schiaparelli Mars Lander Leaves Crater on Planet's Surface

A man photographs the model in scale 1:3 of the landing unit Schiaparelli of the European-Russian ExoMars 2016 mission at the European Space Agency (ESA) space operation center (ESOC) in Darmstadt, Germany, on Oct. 19, 2016. (Thomas Kienzle/AFP/Getty Images)
 

By    |   Friday, 28 Oct 2016 03:07 PM

Europe’s Schiaparelli Mars lander is believed to have crashed on the surface of Mars, leaving a crater about 8 feet wide by 20 inches deep on the planet’s surface.

According to Reuters, images from a NASA Mars orbiter showed the crater along with a small debris pattern that indicated the crash. The Schiaparelli probe was part of the Russian-European ExoMars program, which intended to look for signs of life on the planet after landing.

The Mars lander was Europe’s second failed attempt to land on Mars, after the Beagle 2 failed in 2003. The craft was believed to have released its parachute too soon and stopped firing landing thrusters too quickly, although the reasons for the malfunctions were unknown. An ongoing investigation is expected to be finished in mid-November.

European Space Agency officials released an update Friday that propellant tanks may have exploded to cause the debris seen on images, but no final conclusions have been made, Space.com reported.

“An additional long, dark arc is seen to the upper right of the dark patch but is currently unexplained,” ESA officials added. “It may be linked to the impact and possible explosion.”

Schiaparelli was launched in March and was accompanied by the Trace Gas Orbiter, which was intended to measure methane gas levels to determine the likelihood of biological life on Mars. The Schiaparelli was destroyed in the Oct. 19 crash and may be a setback for the ExoMars mission.

The second phase of ExoMars seeks to land a rover on the surface of Mars in 2021 that will search for life there. Schiaparelli was supposed to test technologies that will be needed for a safe rover landing. Data from the destroyed probe may still be helpful in figuring out how to land safely in the future.

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Europe's Schiaparelli Mars lander is believed to have crashed on the surface of Mars, leaving a crater about 8 feet wide by 20 inches deep on the planet's surface.
schiaparelli, mars, lander, crater
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2016-07-28
Friday, 28 Oct 2016 03:07 PM
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