- Title: "Life on Mars" lander destroyed on impact with red planet - ESA
- Date: 21st October 2016
- Summary: DARMSTADT, GERMANY (OCTOBER 21, 2016) (REUTERS) EXTERIOR OF EUROPEAN SPACE OPERATIONS CENTRE EUROPEAN SPACE AGENCY (ESA) LOGO EXOMARS FLIGHT OPERATIONS DIRECTOR MICHEL DENIS WALKING PAST (SOUNDBITE) (English) EXOMARS FLIGHT OPERATIONS DIRECTOR, MICHEL DENIS, SAYING: "I believe we have found where Schiaparelli landed. This didn't land softly as we would have liked to because the final phase of descent and landing did not function nominally. The first phases, as has been reported already, the separation of the thermoshield after reentering the atmosphere and the first phases under the parachute have worked beautifully and we have data which allowed to analyse this. But somehow the parachute has been released a bit too early and after that the engines, the main engines for the controller functions, but only for a few seconds which is also too little. So basically Schiaparelli has reached the ground with a velocity which was much higher than it should, so several hundreds of kilometres per hour and is unfortunately then of course being, well, destroyed by the impact." IMAGE OF SPACECRAFT ON SCREEN (SOUNDBITE) (English) EXOMARS FLIGHT OPERATIONS DIRECTOR, MICHEL DENIS, SAYING: "The news out of this is that it arrived very close to the landing point, and this has allowed the colleagues from NASA - who had planned a picture with one of their cameras, one of their orbiters - to basically make a picture where one can see clearly the parachute which landed after it was released at the right place and the place where Schiaparelli should have landed softly but unfortunately did not land softly. But one can see this clearly in the pictures." IMAGE OF ROCKET ON SCREEN DENIS BEING INTERVIEWED
- Embargoed: 5th November 2016 16:40
- Keywords: ExoMars Schiaparelli Mars lander crash Flight Operations Director Michel Denis
- Location: DARMSTADT, GERMANY
- City: DARMSTADT, GERMANY
- Country: Germany
- Topics: Science,Space Exploration
- Reuters ID: LVA00154Y92RR
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:European space lander Schiaparelli was destroyed by a crash landing on Mars, the European Space Agency said on Friday (October 21).
Thrusters intended to slow the probe fired for less time than expected so it was travelling too fast when it reached the planet's surface, the flight director of the Russian-European ExoMars programme told Reuters.
"Somehow the parachute has been released a bit too early and after that the engines, the main engines for the controller functions, but only for a few seconds which is also too little. So basically Schiaparelli has reached the ground with a velocity which was much higher than it should, so several hundreds of kilometres per hour and is unfortunately then of course being, well, destroyed by the impact," Michel Denis said.
NASA photographs taken by a camera on-board the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) showed the lander's parachute and a "fuzzy dark patch" assumed to be the crash site, ESA said on its website.
The Schiaparelli probe, part of a broader mission to search for evidence of life on the Red Planet, was to test technologies during the descent and on the surface for a rover scientists hope to send to Mars in 2020.
Its descent marked only the second European attempt to land a craft on Mars, but it has shown no signs of life since it stopped transmitting around 50 seconds before planned touchdown on Wednesday (October 19).
The disc-shaped 577-kg (1,272 lb) Schiaparelli is part of the ExoMars programme that is seeking signs of life.
The primary part of the mission this year, bringing the Schiaparelli lander's mothership into orbit around Mars, was meanwhile a success.
That craft, called Trace Gas Orbiter, will use an atmospheric probe to sniff out methane and other gases around Mars linked to organic life. It will also act as a data relay station for the rover, which is due to follow in 2020.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
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