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Schiaparelli Mars Lander's Fate Still Unknown As European Space Agency Wait For Contact

If successful, it'll be the first ESA Mars landing in 15 years

19/10/2016 18:20

There is still no word from the European Space Agency’s Mars lander Schiaparelli.

The robot was originally supposed to have landed on Mars at around 3pm however radio contact was lost just a minute before the landing.

Schiaparelli’s team at the ESA had hoped that other satellites around Mars would have been able to provide some insight as to whether the landing was a success of not.

While there’s still no news on the fate of the lander, the ESA were able to report that its parent spacecraft, the ExoMars probe has successfully been placed in orbit around the Red Planet.

Over the next few years, ExoMars will study Mars’ atmosphere in fine detail giving scientists all over the world a tantalising glimpse into the planet’s cloud patterns, and atmospheric composition.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Sadly even the success of ExoMars’ orbit was not guaranteed after the team reported that just after it had dispatched Schiaparelli for Mars the orbiter had stopped sending updates.

Thankfully this pause in communications only lasted an hour, allowing the team to regain control of the spacecraft and successfully place it in orbit using a controlled burn.

Schiaparelli Lander

Schiaparelli is more than just a scientific robot, it’s more a testbed for the technologies that the ESA will use in 2020 when it launches its first major rover down onto the surface of the Red Planet.

The idea is that it will successfully demonstrate the landing procedure and technologies needed to survive what is an extremely task.

Many landers have failed to survive the landing process, due to the high speed at which they enter there’s a high risk of the parachutes malfunctioning, or the heat shield failing.

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