See that picture above? That's how the landing was supposed to go. It did not work out that way.
Space is hard, and for every Curiosity rover rolling around on Mars, there are a whole lot more failed missions that missed the mark. It looks like the ESA’s ExoMars project falls in the latter category —though that doesn’t mean the space agency didn’t pull down some useful intel.
The New York Times reports that photos taken by a NASA satellite show where the Schiaparelli lander was supposed to touch down. The lander went radio silent about one minute before it was expected to touch down, and early data indicates it barreled into the planet’s surface at around 186 mph. It hit the right spot, just way too fast. Which explains the radio silence, because the craft went kersplat and busted into pieces.
According to the ESA, the craft was able to send back approximately 80 percent of required landing data — which should come in handy as the space agency plans its next mission. Even though it didn’t go as planned, the ESA still got a good bit of data sent back (ranging from what went wrong, to the parachute, heat shield, thrusters and radar), and you can still learn a whole lot from failure.
The ESA plans to use the data to inform its planned 2020 ExoMars mission, which will hopefully have a higher success rate when it comes to sticking the landing.
(Via The New York Times)