Fate of European Space Probe
October 21, 2016
The European Space Agency is uncertain whether its test probe has
successfully landed on Mars, as part of a landmark mission aimed to
explore signs of life on the Red Planet.
The first part of the European Space Agency’s ExoMars mission has been a
success — scientists began cheering Wednesday as their orbiter began
circling the Red Planet.
But at a news conference Thursday at ESA’s Space Operations Center in
Darmstadt Germany, solar planetary mission director Andreas Accomazzo
said it was unclear whether the Schiaparelli probe had crashed or landed
successfully on Mars.
“There were some conditions under which the lander should have landed,
and this we judge as soft," said Accomazzo. "Unfortunately we are not in
a position yet - but will be - to determine the dynamic position the
lander has touched the ground and then we will know whether it could
survive structurally - or not.”
So far, ESA scientists have been unable to detect signals from the probe
since it entered the Martian atmosphere.
they say the most important goals of the mission are intact. They
gathered important information on how to land a probe for the second
part of the mission - landing a rover on Mars in 2020 that will explore
whether life exists below ground.
ESA’s Director General Jan
Woerner said the agency’s Trace Gas Orbiter is ready for work - studying
trace gases like methane around the planet.
“TGO is for us a cornerstone of the EXO-Mars 2016 as well as 2020
missions. So the readiness is fully confirmed and we are in full control
of the spacecraft,” Woerner said.
ESA failed in its last attempt to land a rover on Mars, more than a
decade ago. Two rovers sent by the the US NASA space agency are
currently exploring the planet’s dunes and craters.
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