When an object traveling through space encounters a planet, what survives of that encounter usually leaves a mark. This is no less true for meteorites than it is for expensive, carefully calibrated robots. Launched toward Mars by the European Space Agency, the Schiaparelli lander had an ominous, silent descent onto the red planet this week, leaving the world wondering whether it survived the landing.
Since the module’s descent trajectory was observed from three different locations, the teams are confident that they will be able to reconstruct the chain of events with great accuracy. The exact mode of anomaly onboard Schiaparelli is still under investigation.