The European Space Agency and Roscosmos’s ExoMars lander may have crashed due to a computer glitch.
According to Nature, a flaw in the software in merging data from different sensors may have led Schiaparelli to think it was closer to the ground than it really was, which caused many of its landing procedures to cut off sooner than it was supposed to.
ESA’s Head of Solar and Planetary Missions Andrea Accomazza told Nature that he is reluctant to diagnose it before a full post-mortem has been completed.
If this is correct, this will be an easier problem to fix for the 2020 ExoMars mission than an issue with the hardware. The 2020 mission is the second part of the ExoMars mission and is going to land a rover on Mars and will last into 2022 or later. Luckily, data shows Schiaparelli successfully performed other aspects of its job, including entering the atmosphere and deploying its parachute exactly when it was supposed to.
The ExoMars team is hoping to virtually re-create the landing to find the cause of the failure and plan for a more successful landing in 2020.
Source: The Verge