Mars probe enters atmosphere; word on landing awaited


BERLIN – The European Space Agency says its experimental probe has entered the atmosphere of Mars but it doesn’t yet have confirmation that the craft touched down.

Don McCoy, the ExoMars project manager, said some data had been received from the Schiaparelli lander confirming its entry on Wednesday and the deployment of its parachute – but it was too early to say more about the state of the lander at this stage.

At the same time, ESA put Schiaparelli’s mother ship, the Trace Gas Orbiter, into orbit around the red planet.

Landing a spacecraft on Mars is notoriously difficult and several past missions have failed, including the European Space Agency’s previous attempt in 2003 with the rover Beagle 2. It made it to Mars but its solar panels didn’t unfold properly.

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