Fate of Mars Schiaparelli lander revealed in hi-res NASA images

NASA released the images of the crater. © NASA / JPL-Caltech / University of Arizona
High-resolution images of the location on Mars where the European Space Agency (ESA) ExoMars Schiaparelli lander crashed have been released by NASA.

Taken by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, the new images show what the ESA believe to be the impact crater, described as a “dark central spot, 2.4 meters across, consistent with the crater made by a 300kg object impacting at a few hundred km/h.” The crater is estimated to be 50cm deep.

Objects believed to be the parachute from the lander and the rear and front heat shields can be seen in the new images, placed at roughly 1.4km (0.8 miles) away from the crash site.

Several dark markings in the new images have caused uncertainty amongst ESA scientists, who theorize they may be related to hydrazine propellant tanks in the module exploding upon impact.

Schiaparelli went missing last week during its final descent to the surface of Mars. According to the ESA it fell to the surface from a height of 2-4km (1.2-2.5 miles), bringing its mission to a premature end.

READ MORE: Lost Mars lander fell 2-4 km, destroyed on impact – NASA images

Previous images released by NASA confirmed the location of the crash site. The ESA claims the mission was a success despite the crash, with landing information valuable to future missions.