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The Bruce Murray Space Image Library

Schiaparelli landing site, after landing attempt

Filed under pretty pictures, Mars Odyssey, ExoMars TGO, trajectory diagrams, Mars, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter

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Schiaparelli landing site, after landing attempt Top image: the landing site of the Schiaparelli module within the predicted landing ellipse in a mosaic of images from the Context Camera (CTX) on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and the Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS) on NASA's 2001 Mars Odyssey orbiter. The landing ellipse is 100 km x 15 km, and is centred on 2 degrees south in latitude and 353 degrees east longitude, in the Meridiani Planum region of Mars, close to the planet's equator. The map also contains the landing site and entire traverse of the Opportunity rover.

Below the main image are a pair of before-and-after images, taken by the CTX camera on 29 May 2016 (left) and 20 October 2016 (right), respectively. The 20 October image shows two new features appearing following the arrival of the Schiaparelli test lander module on the martian surface on 19 October.

One of the features is bright and can be associated with the 12-m diameter parachute used in the second stage of Schiaparelli’s descent, after the initial heat shield entry. The other new feature is a fuzzy dark patch roughly 15 x 40 meters in size and about 1 kilometer north of the parachute. This is interpreted as arising from the impact of the Schiaparelli module itself following a much longer free fall than planned, after the thrusters were switched off prematurely.


ESA identified two pieces of hardware (within the rectangle), but a possible third piece may also be visible: the heat shield. A smudge is located about 1.3 kilometers to the east-northeast of the lander crash site, which is the correct direction and a reasonable distance, based on comparison to the Curiosity landing site.

Before-and-after comparison of Schiaparelli landing site in CTX images (annotated)

NASA / JPL / MSSS / ESA / Emily Lakdawalla

Before-and-after comparison of Schiaparelli landing site in CTX images (annotated)

Original image data dated on or about October 20, 2016.

Most NASA images are in the public domain. Reuse of this image is governed by NASA's image use policy.


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