ExoMars Schiaparelli Lander Likely Lost But Descent Data Valuable for ExoMars Rover Mission


October 20, 2016 ExoMars press conference.

While the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter has settled into a nominal orbit, the fate of the Schiaparelli lander seems sealed, with the Red Planet claiming another victim.

During today's press conference ESA officials said early analysis of the data coming from Schiaparelli confirms "that the entry and descent stages occurred as expected, with events diverging from what was expected after the ejection of the back heat shield and parachute. This ejection itself appears to have occurred earlier than expected, but analysis is not yet complete. The thrusters were confirmed to have been briefly activated although it seems likely that they switched off sooner than expected, at an altitude that is still to be determined."

The data will continue to be analyzed at ESA's space operations centre in Darmstadt, Germany.

At this point mission managers are stressing that while what exactly happened to Schiaparelli remains to be determined, the data received during descent is very valuable and will be used for the ExoMars rover scheduled for 2020.

Jan Wörner, ESA's Director General said "Schiaparelli's primary role was to test European landing technologies. Recording the data during the descent was part of that, and it is important we can learn what happened, in order to prepare for the future."

"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 enquiry board to dig deeper into the data and we cannot speculate further at this time.

October 20 Press Conference

Schiaparelli's Descent to Mars Animation Timeline

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