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Crash site of ill-fated Schiaparelli probe found on the surface of Mars, says European Space Agency

The probe impacted the surface very close to its planned landing site, which allowed NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter to take a picture of the crash site

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Crash Site
What is believed to be the crash site of the Schiaparelli probe in this picture taken by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. VOA
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  • The European Space Agency says it has found the crash site of its ill-fated Schiaparelli probe on the surface of Mars
  • ExoMars Flight Operations Director Michel Denis said that the probe impacted the surface very close to its planned landing site, which allowed NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter to take a picture of the crash site
  • ESA engineers continue to study the data to try to find the reason things went awry

October 23, 2016: The European Space Agency says it has found the crash site of its ill-fated Schiaparelli probe on the surface of Mars.

“I believe we have found where Schiaparelli landed,” said ExoMars Flight Operations Director Michel Denis. “This didn’t land softly as we would have liked to, because the final phase of descent and landing did not function nominally.”

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He added that many aspects of the descent went as planned, but that the parachutes were “released a bit too early” and the engines designed to help slow down the craft only fired for a few seconds, which, in his words was “also too little.”

The ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter and its entry, descent and landing demonstrator module, Schiaparelli, approaching Mars. The separation is scheduled to occur on 16 October 2016, about seven months after launch. VOA
The ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter and its entry, descent and landing demonstrator module, Schiaparelli, approaching Mars. The separation is scheduled to occur on 16 October 2016, about seven months after launch. VOA

“So basically Schiaparelli has reached the ground with a velocity which was much higher than it should, so several hundreds of kilometers per hour and is unfortunately then of course being, well, destroyed by the impact,” he said.

Denis said the probe impacted the surface very close to its planned landing site, which allowed NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter to take a picture of the crash site.

A roughly 15 meter by 40 meter dark patch is visible in the MRO photo. The impact site is about eight kilometers west of the planned touchdown spot near the equator at the Meridiani Plain.

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This NASA map shows the locations of landings on Mars. VOA
This NASA map shows the locations of landings on Mars. VOA

“One can see clearly the parachute, which landed after it was released at the right place and the place where Schiaparelli should have landed softly but unfortunately did not land softly,” he said. “But one can see this clearly in the pictures.”

ESA engineers continue to study the data to try to find the reason things went awry.

The probe was released from its mother ship, the Trace Gas Orbiter, Sunday, and over the ensuing days, it positioned itself for a landing. ESA lost radio contact with it about 50 seconds before it was scheduled to land.

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As with any landing on such a distant body, it’s tricky, with some calling the descent “six minutes of hell,” as the craft plunges toward the red planet at 21,000 kilometres per hour.

The ExoMars program is a joint effort with Russia and seeks to determine if there is or was life on the Red Planet. (VOA)

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Mangalyaan Mission: A huge leap into space

The project was nothing short of any miracle and helped India to join an elite club of space-faring nations to have accomplished this significant achievement.

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India has become only the 4th country in the world to successfully complete a Mars mission. Wikimedia Commons
India has become only the 4th country in the world to successfully complete a Mars mission. Wikimedia Commons

NEW DELHI: The success of Indian Mars Orbiter Mission popularly known as Mangalyaan, is an astonishing success for India. The mission was undertaken by Indian Space and Research Organization (ISRO) back on November 5, 2013. The whole mission was carried out well with clockwise precision and perfection.

Afterwards, the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, congratulated the whole team of people involved in it and said, “History has been created.” The project was nothing short of any miracle and helped India to join an elite club of space-faring nations to have accomplished this significant achievement.

ISRO is the mastermind behind Mangalyaan mission. Wikimedia Commons
ISRO is the mastermind behind Mangalyaan mission. Wikimedia Commons

India has leaped many folds in the space research with its astonishing success of Mars mission that was undertaken by ISRO. After the deployment of the orbiter in the Martian orbit, India went on to become only the 4th country in the world to successfully complete a Mars mission.

Here are some of the highlights of the Mangalyaan mission that you need to know:
1. India is the only country to conduct a successful Mars mission in its first go.
2. The other nations who have conducted a similar Mars mission are US, European Space Agency, and the former Soviet Union.
3. The on-orbit mission life of Mangalyaan was less than ten months
4. The primary focus of the mission was to ascertain the information on Martian Climate and water. Also, the orbiter is expected to explore more about planet’s environment and minerals.

Magalyaan looked out for indications of life on Mars. Wikimedia Commons
Magalyaan looked out for indications of life on Mars. Wikimedia Commons

5. The Mangalyaan was equipped with five solar powered panels to generate enough power to stay afloat.
6. The closest point of orbiter from Mars was 365 km and farthest as 80,000 Km
7. The time taken to complete the Mangalyaan orbiter was 15 months. Whereas, N.A.S.A. took 5 years to complete its “Maven” Mars Orbiter.
8. NASA assisted India in administrative operations and non-visible time of the Indian Deep Space Network.
9. The responsibility of navigational and mission operations was on Indian Deep Space Network.
10. The total dry weight of the Mangalyan shuttle was 500 kg and separately engine fuel weighed about 850 kgs.

Mangalyaan weighs 1,350 kgs and was ready in 15 months. Wikimedia Commons
Mangalyaan weighs 1,350 kgs and was ready in 15 months. Wikimedia Commons

11. The cost of the mission was mere Rs450 crores, that stands out at Rs12 per km. And hence with this budget, the Mangalyan mission is the cheapest so far.
12. According to a research, every Indian has probably contributed about Rs. 5 towards the Mangalyaan mission.

The incredible feat by the Indian scientist has certainly set some very high standard at the international level and thus made India a perfect platform to launch satellites of many foreign countries.