Beacon Transcript – The ExoMars mission specialists may have finally found out what was the fate of Schiaparelli as new images surfaced and revealed that the lander most probably did, indeed, crash into the Martian Surface.
The Schiaparelli was one leg of a two-parts mission as it was launched some seven months ago together with the TGO, or Trace Gas Orbiter.
The mission was part of ExoMars’s plan of gathering and analyzing data related to the possibility of bacterial or other life sources on Mars.
The ExoMars is the joint collaboration between the European Space Agency and the Russian Space Agency, Roscosmos which features the use of European produced space technology and devices.
The Schiaparelli, which was launched in a pod attached to the TGO should have landed on Mars after a six minutes fall through the planet’s atmosphere.
The data gathered during the atmospheric descent as well as the technology and computers on board of the lander should have revealed new information about the planet and also helped in future missions.
The knowledge thus gathered would have helped in the safe landing of a future space mission which is set to send a rover on Mars so as to explore the planet.
After a successful detachment operation from its orbiter host and a five-minute fall through the Martian atmosphere, the Earth control center lost signal with the lander, just one minute before its supposed landing.
As all contact was lost, the ExoMars control center was uncertain as to what was the fate of Schiaparelli as initial data failed to capture any images of the determined landing location.
Recent images captured by the NASA put a stop to debated and offered an answer as to the probe’s final resting state and place.
According to an announcement released on Friday by the European Space Agency, the lander not only crashed into the surface of the planet, it also seems to have been destroyed on impact.
As Schiaparelli fell from an approximated 2 to 4 kilometers height, it was an acknowledged fact that the lander created a new crater on Mars, as a telescope was the first to detect the crash site.
However, the ESA was uncertain as to the exact state of the device as it could have potentially remained intact and continued to offer a beacon for the future landing missions.
With initial data pointing to the fact that the fate of Schiaparelli was determined by an error on the parachute’s landing system, its destruction could have been caused by an explosion of its fuel tanks which were fuel.
As the fate of Schiaparelli will be determined, the TGO’s and the ExoMars mission are still on their way as the TGO will continue to analyze the Martian atmosphere for signs of life and hopefully improve our knowledge of Mars.
Image Source: Wikimedia