Only one second became fatal for the descent vehicle

Only one second became fatal for the descent vehicle

The European descent vehicle, Schiaparelli, thinking it was landing, threw his parachute overboard and closed the thrusters too early.

During landing on the Martian surface last month, the European descent module Schiaparelli made a mistake for only a second, working under conditions that differed from those programmed for landing. This is what led to malfunction.

The glitch in the data was transmitted through the Schiaparelli navigation system, which mistakenly decided that the probe actually resides above the surface of Mars. A preliminary accident report was posted on the website of the European Space Agency (ESA).

In a real situation, Schiaparelli was 2.3 miles above the ground and still needed a parachute, which the mechanism threw overboard prematurely, and the deceleration missiles only worked for a short time. The probe even activated ground systems, assuming it had already landed. So reported to the ESA. The descent of Schiaparelli ended with a blow to the surface, but the information was transmitted back to Earth. This is what helps engineers develop a more advanced landing system for a complex rover, which they plan to launch in 2020. Schiaparelli was conceived as a test run for the ExoMars rover, whose mission is to search for life on Mars.

“We learned a lot from Schiaparelli. And this information will undoubtedly help the second ExoMars mission, ”said David Parker, director of ESA for manned space flight and robotic intelligence, said in a statement.

A full accident report must be submitted early next year.

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