European Mars lander's fate still uncertain: ESA

Reuters News
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Posted: Oct 20, 2016 4:25 AM

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - European scientists are still not certain whether a space lander that reached Mars on Wednesday touched down on the Red Planet in good working condition, the European Space Agency (ESA) said.

"The landing test still gives us some open questions we have to analyze," ESA Director General Jan Woerner told journalists on Thursday, adding he could not say whether the disc-shaped 577-kg (1,272 lb) Schiaparelli probe was still in one piece.

Scientists said data had been received showing the lander's heat shield and parachutes deployed successfully, but that it was unclear what happened in the final seconds before landing and no data had yet been received from the surface.

Schiaparelli, which is testing technologies for a rover due to follow in 2020, represents only the second European attempt to land a craft on the Red Planet.

(Reporting by Maria Sheahan; Editing by Victoria Bryan)