ESA’s Space Probe Schiaparelli Might Have Exploded When It Hit The Surface On Wednesday


The European Space Agency’s (ESA) Schiaparelli lander, an ExoMars Spacecraft attempted to land on Mars on Wednesday. But the agency believes that their spacecraft might have exploded when it landed on the surface of the Red Planet. The conclusion was reached after pictures from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) showed a black spot in the same place where the spacecraft was supposed to land.

Schiaparelli might have exploded upon impact with the Martian surface

The main purpose of Schiaparelli was to test ESA’s landing technology which was to be tested keeping in a mind a future rover that the agency wants to send in the year 2020. The space probe contained a parachute, a heat shield and a many thrusters which were meant to help it slow down while falling through the thin Martian atmosphere. But scientists were left pondering when signals from Schiaparelli were but off just moments before it reached the ground.


The above photos that were captured by MRO’s low resolution CTX camera show two main differences when compared to an image of the same place taken a few months ago. The first difference is a bright mark which the ESA believes is the parachute of the fallen Schiaparelli. While the second difference is a very unclear dark patch that is roughly the same size as the probe itself, ESA believes that this is where the lander crashed on the surface of Mars.

If that isn’t evidence enough then we have other ways to confirm this. Next week the Mars Orbiter’s highest resolution camera will snap some more photos of the same area and they might reveal a lot more about the fate that Schiaparelli met. Another source of information is measurements taken with the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (an experimental telescope in Pune, India). The ESA is also analyzing data from the mothership of Schiaparelli, the Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO), the TGO successfully put itself in orbit around the Red Planet on Wednesday.


It's still too early to know exactly what happened

These photos do not really look good for the space agency but it’s still too early to know what happened exactly. We will still need more evidence to concur that Schiaparelli met with the same fate that we are dreading. The ESA nicknamed the descent of the probe as "six minutes of terror" and their engineers are analyzing the data "day and night”.

We will keep you updated as soon as any other news surfaces.


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