Uncertainty As ESA’s ExoMars Lander Fails To Phone Home

An artist's impression of what the landing should have looked like. ESA/ATG Medialab

There are some nervous faces at the European Space Agency (ESA) at the moment as its Mars lander has failed to make contact following its attempted landing.

The lander, Schiaparelli, was expected to have touched down around 10:48am EDT (3:48pm BST) today, following a six-minute journey through the Martian atmosphere to the surface.

Ten minutes later, a radio signal from the lander confirming it had touched down was supposed to be sent back to Earth, but that signal has not materialized.

This does not necessarily mean the landing has failed. ESA noted that this was “not unexpected” as the signal was only very faint. Nonetheless, it’s not entirely good news yet.

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Now, scientists are awaiting data from the European orbiter Mars Express, as it flies over the landing site to confirm whether the landing was successful or not.

We won't know for sure until later today, though, and even then we may not know for sure until tomorrow, when the parent Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) spacecraft sends back the data it recorded during the landing attempt.

For now, celebrations are on hold, and we can only hope the landing occurred successfully.

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