It’s Official: The Schiaparelli Mission Is Over


The lander who tried to set foot on the soil of Mars this Wednesday could not resist the landing – announced the European Space Agency (ESA) said on Friday. Confirmation of Schiaparelli’s crash is based on images that were captured by the space probe Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), NASA, and is orbiting Mars.

“It crushed on the surface of Mars,” said Thierry Blancquaert responsible for the lander ESA.

As it was scheduled for the next day to the time of landing and arrival of the first ESA on Mars soil, MRO captured photographs of some of the Schiaparelli landing site. This location is the Meridiani Planum, a plain area. And that was when the cameras on board the MRO pinpointed two spots that were not visible in this place – and are identified as the marks left by the parachute from Schiaparelli and about one kilometer north of it, the marks of the module itself.

During the trip into the soil of Mars, and after being released the shield of thermal protection, Schiaparelli opened the parachute to slow in the descent. In the final stage of this descent, also called its propellants (nine), which were also intended to slow down the landing speed, but things did not go as planned. In the last moments of the mission that left Earth in March this year, when a Russian rocket placed within the probe Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) and in its “back”, the Schiaparelli lander (the probe and module separated last Sunday, so the lander device could start the final part of its mission). The propellants shut down earlier than they should – for this reason, the Schiaparelli went into freefall longer than planned, says the European space agency in a statement. “Estimates indicate that Schiaparelli fell from a height of between two and four kilometers, thus crashing at a considerable speed exceeding 300 kilometers per hour,” the statement said.

The Schiaparelli was also representing the first stage of the ExoMars mission, a project between ESA and Russia, which wants to put a rover on Mars in the year 2020. There is now speculation as how will the second phase of this mission continue (which still needs the approval of funding), with the confirmed failure of the Schiaparelli.