New images of the Schiaparelli crash site

High-res color images give more insight about the lander’s demise
By | Published: November 4, 2016 | Last updated on May 18, 2023

NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) captured the impact site (top), the region with the parachute and rear heat shield (bottom left), and the front heat shield (bottom right).

NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona

NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter took high-resolution images of the Schiaparelli module and the site of its unsuccessful landing, providing more insight into the fate of the first ESA lander on Mars.

The Schiaparelli lander was a part of the European Space Agency and the Russian Federal Space Agency’s joint ExoMars mission, along with the Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO). While the TGO is still successfully orbiting Mars, Schiaparelli’s landing, caused likely by a computer glitch, put it out of commission.

The new images were taken on November 1 and were taken with a high-resolution camera and three filters, making it possible for a color image to be released.

The landing site shows a dark crater, as well as lighter spots around the area, which is believed to be pieces from Schiaparelli. There are also dark streaks in the photos that are thought to be surface disturbance from Schiaparelli’s fuel tank exploding.

The images show not only the landing site, but also the parachute and heat shield from the lander. Since the last images taken on October 25, it appears that the parachute’s outline has changed, which scientists say was probably caused by wind. The heat shield has not changed since the last imaging.

Scientists will be looking to see if any other changes have happened after the next imaging scheduled in two weeks.