Scientists from the European Space Agency have LOST CONTACT with the Schiaparelli lander. What exactly happened remains a mystery, but the probe didn’t signal back home as it was supposed to. In fact, mission control reveals that they stopped receiving radio signals from Schiaparelli some 50 seconds before the probe was to land on Mars
The European Space Agency has revealed that it has not received any signals from its experimental Mars lander, Schiaparelli.
The lander, which hitchhiked a 500 million km trip to the red planet’s surface traveled from Earth for seven months.
According to officials, it’s very likely that Schiaparelli’s ‘soft landing’ didn’t go as planned and most likely failed as experts reveal the lander may have ‘jettisoned too early.’
Experts have revealed that the module ‘successfully completed most steps in its 6-minute descent through the red planet’s atmosphere, but the lander’s ‘thrusters ‘switched off sooner than expected’.
This most likely may have resulted in the lander crashing into the red planet.
However, even though the probe most likely crashed on Mars, the mission itself should not be considered as a failure. The Schiaparelli lander was a test probe, send to Mars to test European landing technologies ahead of the ExoMars Rover mission in 2020.
ExoMars Rover is a mobile laboratory just like NASA’s Curiosity rover.
Additionally, Schiaparelli’s ‘mothership’ the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) has been successfully placed into orbit around Mars.
In one year, the probe will set to ‘sniff out’ the Martian atmosphere searching for unusual traces of gasses like methane, which according to scientists may be signs of life on the red planet.
‘The very good news is that TGO is very successfully inserted into orbit,’ said Mr. Worner, speaking at a news conference at ESA’s mission control center in Darmstadt, Germany.
The Schiaparelli lander, aka the ExoMars entry, was the second attempt of a Mars landing by the European Space Agency.
On Christmas day of 2003, the Beagle 2 lander was set to touch down on the red planet’s surface.
After separating from the Mars Express, Beagle 2 was not heard from again.
As it turns out, the Beagle 2 did land successfully on Mars, but the probe’s communication was cut off as it failed to deploy solar panels. Had Schiaparelli reported back to Earth, it would have spent the next four days gathering weather data before its batteries ran out.