Scientists shocked by new image from Mars

Scientists shocked by new image from Mars

A new color photograph of the surface of the Red Planet shows the Schiaparelli crash site in stunning detail.

The devastating crash of the Schiaparelli probe on the surface of Mars has been captured in color detail by the European Space Agency. ESA has released the image from the NASA Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter circling the Red Planet, which shows just what the wreckage looks like on the planet’s surface.

The crash site was first spotted in a black and white image a week ago, and now that NASA’s orbiter has passed over the site again, researchers took some new color photographs to get a better view of it. The images were stitched together to provide a full view of the impact site and help with the investigation, which will be important for a follow-on rover in the 2020 time frame.

The photo confirms that the heat shield burned as expected, and it appears to back up the hypothesis on what caused the lander to crash. It’s one of the most important clues to date in what is an extremely important investigation to understand what went wrong, and prevent it from happening again.

“About 0.9 km to the south, the parachute and rear heatshield have also now been imaged in colour,” the ESA statement reads. “In the time that has elapsed since the last image was taken on 25 October, the outline of the parachute has changed. The most logical explanation is that it has been shifted in the wind, in this case slightly to the west. This phenomenon was also observed by MRO in images of the parachute used by NASA’s Curiosity rover.

“A stereo reconstruction of this image in the future will also help to confirm the orientation of the rear heatshield. The pattern of bright and dark patches suggest it is sitting such that we see the outside of the heatshield and the signature of the way in which the external layer of insulation has burned away in some parts and not others – as expected.”

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