Europe Fears Its Mars Lander Has Crashed

The ESA lost contact with its robot less than a minute before it landed
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 19, 2016 3:20 PM CDT
Europe Fears Its Mars Lander Has Crashed
This artist impression provided by the European Space Agency, shows the Schiaparelli module with thrusters firing. In reality, the lander's arrival on Mars Wednesday probably looked a lot more like a big crash.   (ESA/ATG-medialab via AP)

It appears Europe's latest attempt to put a lander on the surface has Mars has once again resulted in failure. The BBC reports the European Space Agency lost communication with the Schiaparelli robot less than a minute before it was supposed to reach the Martian surface Wednesday. The lander's parachute definitely deployed, but it's unclear what happened after that, according to the New York Times. "These are not good signs," says the head of the mission operations department. And while it's possible the lander crashed and broke, the ESA isn't giving up yet. It could spend the next few days trying to figure out why it lost communication with the lander and how to get it back. The good news is the lander wasn't integral to the mission, which is centered around the Trace Gas Orbiter, currently circling above Mars and collecting information about its atmosphere. (More Mars stories.)

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