The poor old ExoMars Schiaparelli lander had a heavy landing onto the Red Planet on October 19, to say the least. The first color images of the crash site have now been revealed, which will hopefully shed some light on what exactly went wrong.
The high-resolution images were taken by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) on November 1. The European Space Agency (ESA) said the bright spots around the main impact site are likely to be fragments of Schiaparelli. Those dark streaks directly to the left of the crater are also likely to be disturbances from the impact or explosion, although neither of these two possibilities can be confirmed.
The other image appears to show the lander’s parachute, which has moved since last week when a black-and-white image was taken on October 25, most likely due to Martian winds. The parachute is only 12 meters (39 feet) in diameter and it’s attached to the rear heat-shield, which measures about 2.4 meters (7.8 feet) wide.
ESA said that further imaging was going to take place in about a fortnight. In the meantime, their internal investigation into what went wrong during the descent continues.
The two images, taken a week apart, of the parachute. NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona