The European Space Agency (ESA) is hailing its ExoMars mission a success despite mystery over the fate of a lander supposed to have touched down on the Red Planet. Signals from the disc-shaped Schiaparelli probe stopped just before its scheduled landing on Wednesday, although a parachute to slow its descent did deploy, Euronews reports.


“Not only did it functionally work from a timing point of view but also the heat shield that is protecting the capsule throughout this atmospheric phase at high velocity has worked flawlessly,” ESA Spacecraft Operations Manager Andrea Accomazzo told a news conference on Thursday morning.


“From the data we have collected, we can also see that the hardware has provided meaningful data. Now it is a matter to analyse why, when we put together this data in the Martian environment, the spacecraft did not behave exactly as we expected.”


While scientists try to work out why that happened, their mission does have brighter news. The lander’s mothership known as the TGO – or Trace Gas Orbiter – is functioning and successfully in orbit around Mars – seeking signs of life.



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