Sabato, 21 Aprile, 2018

Mars Lander Loss Starts Scramble for Answers

An illustration released by the European Space Agency shows the Schiaparelli EDM lander. ESA  ATG medialab  Handout via REUTERS     
   Enlarge  Caption An illustration released by the European Space Agency shows the Schiaparelli EDM lander. ESA ATG medialab Handout via REUTERS Enlarge Caption
Carmela Zoppi | 30 Ottobre, 2016, 19:43

David Parker, ESA's Director of Human Spaceflight and Robotic Exploration, said: "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".

The disc-shaped 577-kg (1,272 lb) Schiaparelli is part of the Russian-European ExoMars program that is seeking signs of life.

European Space Agency teams at the European Space Operations Centre (ESOC) in Darmstadt, Germany, are monitoring the health of their second orbiter around Mars, which joins the 13-year old Mars Express.

"The lander touched down, that is certain", ESA's Schiaparelli manager Thierry Blancquaert told Agence France-Presse.

Blancquaert said he was "not too optimistic" of receiving a clean bill of health.

After the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) entered Martian orbit, Schiaparelli separated from its mother ship on 16 October and was due to land on the planet's surface yesterday.

Europe lost contact with it's Schiaparelli Mars lander one minute before it was supposed to touch down on the surface of the red planet Wednesday, leading to fears the spacecraft may have crashed.

So far, the ExoMars mission - a joint venture between ESA and Russia's Roscosmos space agency - is going smoothly.

ESA's last attempt at a Mars attempt came in 2003 with the Beagle 2 rover. The lander carries sensors created to measure wind speed and direction, humidity, temperature and electric fields. The Trace Gas Orbiter will investigate the source of methane on Mars, which could be a sign of life or geological processes.

Woener said he had received suggestions to drive NASA's Curiosity rover to the location of Schiaparelli and direct its camera to the landing site to inspect Schiaparelli.

The ExoMars lander is named after Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli whose description of "canali" on Mars prompted debate about whether there was life on the planet.

The TGO is now on its planned orbit around Mars. Since the beginning, ESA has already announced that the six-minute window to land Schiaparelli on the surface of Mars is the most crucial part of the mission. It's then we'll find out the details of the data scientists are examining overnight, along with hopefully hearing about the fate of the lander.

At 3.42pm, United Kingdom time, it was due to begin a "six minutes of terror" journey through the Martian atmosphere.

All landers and rovers sent to Mars have been NASA missions, aside from the Soviet Union's Mars 3 craft, which operated on the planet's surface for 20 seconds in the 1970s.

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