ESA depiction of Mars landing craft - which appears to have crashed Wednesday October 19.
Dark and Light dots before and after, highlighting probable crash site. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS from space.com
The ExoMars Mission 2016
The European Space Agency (ESA) and Russia had a two part mission which reached Mars last week: 1) to enter the Trace Gas Orbiter mother-ship into Mars orbit and 2) to test land the rover named Schiaparelli. The data is still being analysed, but apparently the landing failed. With about a minute left in the 6 minute decent, all contact was lost with the lander. Early data indicates that the parachute was deployed and the heat shield was ejected. Photos from Nasa (above) seem to show what's left of the parachute, and possibly a site where the lander crashed.
Although the ESA is downplaying the significance of the lost Mars rover - and they rightfully state the data collected is valuable - this marks the second time the ESA had trouble with a landing-craft on Mars. The Mars Express mission in 2003, which still has a functional orbiting satellite, also failed to successfully activate the Beagle 2 lander. For 12 years that rover had been thought lost for reasons unknown, until in January 2015 it was spotted by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Photographs appear to show that two of the solar panels didn't fully deploy (blocking the lander's communication antenna).