Images of Mars probe's supposed crash site released by European Space Agency

Updated: 

The European Space Agency has released images which may show the Schiaparelli lander's crash site on the Red Planet's surface.

The distant images show a large dark patch on the planet which was not there before the Mars lander's attempted landing.

The images were captured by an American satellite, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), using a low-resolution camera. Though the images cannot yet be said to show the probe for sure, they are consistent with a high-velocity impact.

Data received from the probe during the early parts of its six-minute descent to the Mars surface, before contact was lost, showed its retro rockets had not functioned properly and its parachute had jettisoned too early. The rockets were supposed to slow the lander from about 270kmh (167.7mph) to 7kmh (4.3mph).

The ESA estimate the lander actually dropped from between two and four kilometres, hitting the surface at more than 300kmh (186.4mph).

Mars lander using rockets in artists depiction
Without the rockets working properly, seen here in an artist's depiction, the lander would have caused some serious damage to itself, and the surface of the Red Planet (ESA/PA)

The Schiaparelli has its own Twitter account from which it shared the images, and some users have lamented the apparent loss of the unfortunate spacefract.

But some were optimistic about it all.

Others inevitably couldn't help but relate it to European politics though...