Mars lander goes silent, but scientists remain hopeful

European Space Agency’s robotic lander may still deliver needed info

All was well as the European Space Agency's robotic explorer Schiaparelli closed in on its Mars landing on Wednesday.

Data coming back to Earth showed that the robotic lander entered the Martian atmosphere as expected. Its parachute opened to slow its descent.

And then it went silent as the lander's signal stopped.

At the point that Schiaparelli, which was launched with the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter on March 14, should have been about to touch down on the Martian surface, it was lost.

The European Space Agency (ESA) also isn't receiving any landing data from an array of telescopes or a Mars orbiter.

Scientists at the ESA, however, aren't yet calling this a loss.

Speaking at a news conference Thursday, David Parker, ESA's Director of Human Spaceflight and Robotic Exploration, said the sheer amount of data they've received back from this experimental mission made the effort worth it, even if Schiaparelli was lost during landing.

"In terms of the Schiaparelli test module, we have data coming back that allow us to fully understand the steps that did occur, and why the soft landing did not occur," Parker said. "From the engineering standpoint, it's what we want from a test, and we have extremely valuable data to work with. We will have an inquiry board to dig deeper into the data and we cannot speculate further at this time."

The ESA noted that its scientists have already begun looking for clues about what happened to their explorer.

Schiaparelli is an experimental robotic module, designed to test the space agency's technology and capabilities to have a craft enter the Marian atmosphere, descend and land safely on the planet.

While NASA has been operating robotic rovers on the Martian surface, the ESA is working on joining in.

If the landing had been successful, the robot was designed to operate for two to four Martian days doing scientific experiments.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags space

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Sharon Gaudin

Computerworld (US)
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?