Just last month, the European Space Agency attempted to land the Schiaparelli lander on the Martian surface from the Trace Gas Orbiter, which is already orbiting the red planet days prior.
Although the Trace Gas Orbiter made it there safely, Schiaparelli didn’t land on the red planet as smoothly as expected. Instead, the rockets that were supposed to help it land softly on the red planet’s surface stopped burning too soon and the lander made a crash landing.
A few days after the event, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter reportedly snapped black and white photographs of the crash site. A little black speck could be made out on the surface of Mars that wasn’t there prior to the event.
Now, scientists are able to get a closer look. Thanks to new color photographs taken by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter’s High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona; Business Insider
The photographs show some interesting things, such as how the spent parachute reportedly shifted positions, highlighting how the red planet has winds, the same effect that was observed when the Curiosity rover landed on the Martian surface in 2012.
Three individual debris spots are observed as a result of the failed Schiaparelli mission, including: 1) the crash site for the lander itself, 2) the spot where the parachute and rear heat shield landed, and 3) the area where the front heat shield touched down.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona
The image of the front heat shield is in black and white, unlike the others.
Because investigations are ongoing, more images and explanations into the events that occurred are expected to surface in the near future. The space agency still wants to know more about why the problem occurred and what can be done to improve landing efforts in the future.
Importantly, the Schiaparelli mission was only part one of a two-part mission. The next deals with putting another rover on the red planet by 2020, which will be called the Mars 2020 rover.
It will be the most advanced Martian rover to date, helping scientists in their search for extraterrestrial life and learning more about the red planet’s conditions so that we can be prepared for eventually sending astronauts there to live.
We absolutely don’t want to see this tragedy happen again when the Mars 2020 rover makes it to the red planet.
Source: Business Insider