On October 19th, the European Space Agency’s Schiaparelli lander was supposed to make a soft touchdown on Mars. Instead, it crashed, and the ESA has been working on diagnosing exactly what went wrong ever since. Today, the agency announced that it thinks it figured out what happened, and it all came down to a single piece of faulty data.
Launched all the way back in March, the Schiaparelli lander spent months traveling through space for its fateful rendezvous with the Red Planet, which it reached on October 19th. As the lander entered the martian atmosphere, everything was going fine, with a successful parachute deployment and a heatshield that functioned perfectly. More →