Science Ticker | Science News

Love Science? Welcome Home.

Support Amazing Science Journalism.

Create the New Science Generation.

Science Ticker

Your daily roundup of research news

Science News Staff

Science Ticker

Science Ticker

Mars lander silent as mission scientists work out what went wrong

illustration of Schiaparelli landing sequence

The intended landing sequence for the Schiaparelli lander did not appear to go as planned once the parachute separated from the probe, mission controllers report.

Sponsor Message

The Schiaparelli Mars lander remains silent since its attempted landing October 19 on the Red Planet. All data transmitted by the lander during its descent have been relayed to Earth, and mission scientists are now in the thick of trying to figure out what went wrong.

“I am extremely confident that we'll be able to fully understand what happened,” ESA spacecraft operations manager Andrea Accomazzo said at an October 20 news briefing. Schiaparelli is most likely on the surface, but its condition remains unknown.

Early data indicate that Schiaparelli survived most of its parachute entry, but in the last few seconds before jettisoning the chute, something unexpected happened. Mission scientists cannot say yet what that “something” was. The retrorocket designed to slow it down further did appear to fire, but for a shorter time than expected. Mission scientists also don’t yet know if all the rockets fired as planned. Further details will come with the analysis of data received from the lander.

Other spacecraft orbiting Mars will continue to listen for a signal from Schiaparelli, which has enough battery power to last a few Martian days, maybe more. The lander was designed as an experiment to test technologies and protocols for safely dropping a payload on the surface of the Red Planet, such as a rover planned to arrive in 2021.

The Trace Gas Orbiter, which also arrived as part of the ExoMars mission, appears healthy and in orbit around the Red Planet, ready to undertake an investigation of trace gases in the Martian atmosphere.

Planetary Science

Juno spacecraft goes into ‘safe mode,’ continues to orbit Jupiter

By Christopher Crockett 6:57pm, October 19, 2016
The Juno spacecraft has gone into safe mode while in orbit around Jupiter. Mission scientists are also closely monitoring a fuel valve issue on the probe.
Planetary Science

Mission scientists await signal from Mars lander

By Christopher Crockett 5:16pm, October 19, 2016
The ExoMars mission’s Schiaparelli lander went silent before its scheduled landing on the Red Planet.
Planetary Science

ExoMars mission set to arrive at Red Planet on October 19

By Christopher Crockett 5:30pm, October 18, 2016
The European ExoMars mission is about to arrive at the Red Planet, dropping a lander on the surface and putting a spacecraft into orbit.
Particle Physics

KATRIN experiment readies for quest to find neutrino’s mass

By Emily Conover 1:03pm, October 18, 2016
The Karlsruhe Tritium Neutrino experiment, or KATRIN, has begun taking test data in its effort to measure the mass of neutrinos.

Berries may give yellow woodpeckers a red dye job

By Helen Thompson 3:34pm, October 17, 2016
A diet of invasive honeysuckle berries may be behind stray red feathers in woodpeckers called yellow-shafted flickers.
Computing,, Networks

AI system learns like a human, stores info like a computer

By Laurel Hamers 7:00am, October 14, 2016
A new artificial neural network hooked up to extra memory can learn to solve complex problems.
Animals,, Genetics

Hot and spicy pain signals get blocked in naked mole-rats

By Laura Sanders 5:23pm, October 12, 2016
Naked mole-rats have a protein that interrupts pain signal.
Animals,, Biophysics

African elephants walk on their tippy-toes

By Helen Thompson 7:00am, October 10, 2016
Pressure plates reveal how African elephants load their feet when they walk, providing clues to pachyderm podiatry problems.
Planetary Science

Saturn’s moon Dione might harbor an underground ocean

By Christopher Crockett 2:14pm, October 7, 2016
Saturn’s moon Dione might have an underground ocean, like several other moons in the solar system.

Minuscule machines earn trio 2016 chemistry Nobel

By Thomas Sumner 6:52am, October 5, 2016
The creators of mini machines including chains, axles and motors have earned the 2016 Nobel Prize in chemistry.
Subscribe to RSS - Science Ticker