Pho­tos show Euro­pean Mars probe crash; blast the­o­rized

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - NATION+WORLD -

Europe’s ex­per­i­men­tal Mars probe hit the right spot — but at the wrong speed — and may have ended up in a fiery ball of rocket fuel when it struck the sur­face, sci­en­tists said Fri­day.

Pictures taken by a NASA satel­lite show a black spot in the area where the Schi­a­par­elli lan­der was meant to touch down Wed­nes­day, the Euro­pean Space Agency said. The images end two days of spec­u­la­tion fol­low­ing the probe’s un­ex­pected ra­dio si­lence less than a minute be­fore the planned land­ing.

“Es­ti­mates are that Schi­a­par­elli dropped from a height of be­tween 1.4-2.4 miles, there­fore im­pact­ing at a con­sid­er­able speed, greater than 186 mph,” the agency said.

It said the large dis­tur­bance cap­tured in the NASA photographs may have been caused by the probe’s steep crash-land­ing, which would have sprayed mat­ter around like a blast site on Earth.

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