MRO’s high-res pictures of Schiaparelli are now available

The MRO team has now released high-res images acquired during a planned pass by MRO over the Schiaparelli landing site.  It does shed a little more light, although engineers will glean far more useful information from the 600MB of data it managed to uplink to Mars Express before perishing.  (The early indications from that, by the way, are that it was probably a software problem, not hardware, although ESA has not given more detail than that yet.  The most they’ve said is that some events were clearly commanded too soon.)

The new image clearly shows not only the impact site, but also the heatshield and and the parachute, still attached to the backshell.  Perhaps the most interesting feature is a lighter arc extending out from the Schiaparelli impact site.  This could be a debris trail left behind by a ruptured propellant tank exiting the spacecraft on impact.  It will certainly be subject to careful analysis in the coming weeks.

mro-hirise-esa-exomars-schiaparelli-rover-pia21131-br2

The MRO team plans another pass later, which will allow stereo imaging of the site.  This should help determine whether the black smudge is just a smudge or if its more of a crater.  If nothing else, in addition to the wealth of engineering data obtained during descent, this is a unique opportunity to advance impact science.

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