There’s a huge impact crater where a joint European Space Agency (ESA) and Russian probe was supposed to land on Mars.
ESA’s lander, dubbed Schiaparelli, stopped communicating with mission control about one minute before its planned touchdown, and the lander’s parachute appears to have not functioned properly. The resulting crash has apparently created a 50-by-130-foot crater visible as a dark patch about 3.4 miles west of its intended landing site.
“Estimates are that Schiaparelli dropped from a height of between 2 and 4 kilometers [1.2 to 2.5 miles], therefore impacting at a considerable speed, greater than 300 km/h [186 mph],” the ESA wrote in a update. “The relatively large size of the feature would then arise from disturbed surface material. It is also possible that the lander exploded on impact, as its thruster propellant tanks were likely still full.”
The video of the crash site was taken by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.
NASA is currently operating two rovers on Mars, dubbed Opportunity and Curiosity. America’s space agency has successfully landed seven different probes on Mars and only crashed two. The Soviet space program failed to land three probes in a row on Mars. No country besides the U.S. has successfully operated a probe on Mars for longer than 14.5 seconds.
China plans on sending a small 400-pound rover to Mars in 2020 as part of its ambitious, military-run, multibillion dollar space program. NASA plans to launch its own $2.1 billion dollar nuclear isotope powered Mars 2020 rover as well.
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