Thursday, October 27, 2016

Update on Mars Schiaparelli Lander

Last week I wrote about the recent crash landing of the Mars Schiaparelli Lander.  You can read more about that here:

Mars Schiaparelli Lander Lost

As I mentioned in that post, the mission itself is still a success as the spacecraft orbiting Mars was a success.  This orbiter, the Trace Gas Orbiter, will search for traces of methane in the atmosphere of Mars, which is an indicator for past life on the Mars.  Over the past few days scientists have learned much more about the landing failure of the lander.

It's now believed the lander exploded upon impact and there are now images of the impact site on the surface of Mars taken by an orbiter.

This image switches back and forth between a before and after shot of the landing site.  The image on the right is a zoomed in region.  Notice the dark black spot in the upper left of the boxed region.  That is the Mars Schiaparelli impact site.  The white spot in the lower part of the boxed region is the parachute.  This is a cool image that shows off our capabilities of taking quality images of a surface from far above!  

Scientists also think, at this time, the thrusters may not have fired.  The explosion on impact was the result of full propellant tanks when the lander struck the ground.  Again, this mission is NOT a failure given the success of the orbiter. 

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