October 19, 2016

"On Wednesday, the European Space Agency sought to become the second entity to successfully land a spacecraft on Mars with its Schiaparelli lander."

ars technica: And everything seemed to be going swimmingly right up until the point that Schiaparelli was to touch down. by Eric Berger

'The European scientists had been tracking the descent of Schiaparelli through an array of radio telescopes near Pune, India and were able to record the moment when the vehicle exited a plasma blackout. The scientists also received a signal that indicated parachute deployment. But during the critical final moments, when nine hydrazine-powered thrusters were supposed to fire to arrest Schiaparelli's descent, the signal disappeared.

'12:50pm ET Update: Some good news from Mars, as the in-space component of the ExoMars mission, the Trace Gas Orbiter, successfully reached orbit after a two-hour burn of its engine. This spacecraft will look for methane and other trace gases in the Martian atmosphere.

'As for the Schiaparelli lander, ExoMars project manager Don McCoy provided a brief update after engineers reviewed data collected by Mars Express. He said it was still too early to draw any conclusions, and that engineers would await further information from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter later this afternoon before making a final determination. "Until we have that data we are hesitant to make any conclusions," McCoy said.

'13:20pm ET Update: As of the latest update from the ESA, there's no indication of any post-landing communication. Operators are planning on analyzing the signals they have to determine whether the lander was on the expected trajectory during descent, and expect to have more news tomorrow morning. The outlook is not terribly promising.'

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