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ExoMars lander may have exploded on impact

Posted on Friday, 21 October, 2016 | Comment icon 58 comments

The ExoMars mission consists of both an orbiter and a lander. Image Credit: ESA
It looks like the Schiaparelli lander slammed in to the Martian surface after its landing system failed.
The fate of the probe, which had separated from the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter a few days ago to begin its descent through the Martian atmosphere, has now been confirmed courtesy of new images returned by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

The photographs show the lander's parachute lying on the surface as well as a dark patch where it is thought that the probe smashed in to the ground at speeds of up to 186 miles per hour.

Exactly what went wrong during the landing remains unclear however with so much data available scientists are confident that they will be able to piece together what happened.

The Trace Gas Orbiter, meanwhile, has entered in to orbit around Mars and is doing well.

Source: The Verge | Comments (58)

Tags: ExoMars, Schiaparelli

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #49 Posted by Merc14 on 27 October, 2016, 21:44
It was moving very fast when it hit.  I wonder if the parachute ripped off or was released early?  
Comment icon #50 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 27 October, 2016, 22:07
It was released early.
Comment icon #51 Posted by toast on 27 October, 2016, 22:49
Today, Rolf Densing/ ESA Head of Missions, stated in the new magazine DER SPIEGEL that the failure was caused by a software communication problem. The altimeter of Schiaparelli provided data as planned but this data wasnt processed by Schiaparelli`s navigation system because it was switched off as it "was in the opinion" that the touchdown has been executed already. As a result, the retrorockets fired for 3 seconds ony, which was the minimum possible operation time, instead of 60 seconds. Further investigations about the software failure are in process, the final report is expected to be ready... [More]
Comment icon #52 Posted by Merc14 on 27 October, 2016, 23:03
Some code monkey is in a heap of trouble.
Comment icon #53 Posted by stevewinn on 28 October, 2016, 19:02
Another crash and burn on Mars. What is the success rate for intact landings on Mars?
Comment icon #54 Posted by Derek Willis on 28 October, 2016, 19:13
Didn't someone earlier post that they hoped it wasn't another case of imperial units being mixed up with metric units? It is unbelievable how, when NASA were able to successfully land the two Viking probes forty years ago, this sort of problem could occur now.
Comment icon #55 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 28 October, 2016, 19:57
It's not unbelievable at all. The Vikings were relatively unsophisticated. Had they landed on a rock they would have been destroyed. That was one of the reasons NASA sent two, it gave them a better chance of success. As it happens NASA got lucky and they both survived.  Modern landers are much more sophisticated. They are increasingly able to make autonomous decisions, rather than relying on a simple timer based system to land, meaning that space agencies can actually send them to places of interest rather than picking flat, relatively uninteresting landing spots. The downside is that with inc... [More]
Comment icon #56 Posted by toast on 28 October, 2016, 21:13
We will know in 2 weeks.
Comment icon #57 Posted by Derek Willis on 28 October, 2016, 22:36
So what did all that sophistication result in? A lander that failed. If a lander is given more sophistication than the highly successful Viking landers, it is only of value if it actually manages to land. Edit: And by the way, Waspie, as usual you like to miss out facts to make your point. The Viking landers did not only have "timers" - they had a relatively sophisticated terminal descent velocity landing radar system to determine how long the retro rockets should burn for. http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/fact_sheets/viking.pdf And also, as usual, you tend not to reply to posts that point out you... [More]
Comment icon #58 Posted by Derek Willis on 28 October, 2016, 22:39
I am not saying there was a mix up with imperial and metric units. The poster made the comment to suggest that human error was the reason the Schiaparelli failed - i.e. something went wrong with the programming.

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