The photos show the blackened crater left by ESA’s Schiaparelli Lander that crashed on Mars
NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has transmitted photos of the charred remains of the Schiaparelli landing space of the European Space Agency.
The Schiaparelli Lander, which crashed on the Martian surface on October 19, 2016, is shown as a crispy black spot surrounded by rusty red sand.
The images captured by the HiRISE camera of the Mars Recognition Orbiter (MRO) shortly after the crash show diffuse dark surrounding a shallow crater, in addition to small bright spots.
Now, three years later, HiRISE has reprinted this location with new images that show the crash site with the impact clearly visible.
The new image, captured by the High Resolution Image Science Experiment (HiRISE) aboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter last December, shows that the diffuse dark material of the accident has faded slightly
Schiaparelli launched in March 2016 with its mothership, the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO), which successfully established orbit around the red planet.
While the TGO still takes atmospheric readings around Mars today, Schiaparelli is now represented by nothing more than a crisp black dot.
The new images taken by HiRISE on December 14 of last year show a much clearer atmosphere compared to the initial photos of the site at the end of 2016.
Another image taken on March 25, 2019 while the dust was still settling in a dust storm that surrounded the planet, so the surface characteristics had a low contrast.
Much of the diffuse dark shock material that left a trail in the dust has faded, making the black crater more distinctive.
At least two bright spots of light are also almost visible in these new images, as in the originals of 2016.
The ExoMars Schiaparelli Lander crashed on the Martian surface on October 19, 2016. Marked in blue is his final resting place in this new image, dating from last December
This March 2019 image was taken by HiRISE shortly after the red planet's dust storm.
MISSION OF EXOMARS
The main objective of ExoMars is to discover if life has existed on Mars.
The spacecraft in which the Schiaparelli traveled to Mars, Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO), carries a probe to study trace gases like methane across the planet.
Scientists believe that methane, a chemical that is strongly linked to life on Earth.
The second part of the ExoMars mission, delayed until 2020, will deliver a rover to the surface of Mars.
It will be the first with the ability to move across the planet's surface and drill into the ground to collect and analyze samples.
Schiaparelli was designed to test technologies for rover landing in four years.
Schiaparelli's main mission was to test the technology for future soft landings on the surface of Mars.
The descent and landing module of Schiaparelli was separated from the TGO as planned on October 16, 2016, and headed for Mars for three days.
"They are now in a high-speed collision course with Mars, which is fine for the landing module: it will remain on this path to make its controlled landing," were the words of ExoMars flight director Michel Denis in the mission control in Darmstadt, Germany before the accident
When the landing module began its six-minute descent on October 19, a computer error caused the module to interrupt its descent and prematurely discard its parachute.
Initially, the controllers had confirmed that the TGO was in contact with Earth again after a successful maneuver to enter orbit around Mars.
However, they said they had not heard of the landing module and admitted that "the signals are not good."
Approximately one week later, high-resolution images taken by MRO showed parts of the Schiaparelli landing and its landing site.
A full investigation into the accident was completed in May 2017, which confirmed that the "contradictory information" on Schiaparelli's computer was to blame.
He ended up activating his ground systems, even though he was still about 2.3 miles from the surface of Mars, including parachute deployment and briefly firing his braking thrusters.
The image of Schiaparelli and its hardware components was taken by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, or MRO, on November 1, 2016
The probe hit the planet's surface at approximately 335 miles per hour.
In 2020, three more launches to Mars are scheduled, and landing attempts will be made in 2021.
NASA's Mars 2020 rover aims to land on Mars this time next year and collect samples to return to Earth, while China plans to launch an orbiter and a rover in July as part of a mission called Huoxing-1.
Meanwhile, the European Space Agency and the Russian Roscosmos, the team responsible for Schiaparelli, will launch the Rosalind Franklin rover as part of the next stage of their ExoMars project.
In fact, Schiaparelli had to pave the way for Rosalind Franklin, a six-wheeled laboratory equipped with life-seeking instruments.
If the solar-powered vehicle lands on Mars, it will begin a seven-month mission to sample the soil, analyze its composition and find past or present Martian life buried underground.
WHAT FAILED WITH THE LANDING OF SCHIAPARELLI
The burning of the main engine of the Trace Gas Orbiter began at 2:05 PM BST (9:05 AM ET).
The atmospheric entry of the Schiaparelli landing module was supposed to start at 15:42 BST (10:42 ET), and the landing was at 15:48 BST (10:48 ET).
Initially slowed by friction in its thermal shield, the probe was intended to deploy its parachute at an altitude of approximately 6.8 miles (11 km). He deployed the parachute a little early, but this would not have been a problem if everything else had gone as planned.
As it approached the ground, three groups of retro rockets would be fired, which would have decreased the ship's speed to less than 4.3 mph (7 km / h) 6.5 feet (two meters) from the surface.
The rockets should have shut down after about 30 seconds, allowing the probe to fall the rest of the way. but the rocket only fired for 3 to 4 seconds, which means the probe was still traveling at 300 km / h (186 mph).
A special crush structure integrated into the spacecraft would have been cushioned against the final crash if it had been traveling more slowly.
But instead, the landing module crashed and probably exploded on the planet's surface.
The landing site is Meridiani Planum, a flat region that interests scientists because it contains an old layer of hematite.
The entrance to the atmosphere of the Schiaparelli landing module began at 15:42 BST (10:42 ET), and the landing was at 15:48 BST (10:48 ET). Initially slowed by friction in its thermal shield, the probe deployed its parachute at an altitude of approximately 6.8 miles (11 km)
. (tagsToTranslate) dailymail (t) sciencetech (t) NASA