European Mars lander exploded after crashing into planet, images suggest
The European Space Agency's Schiaparelli Mars lander crashed into the Red Planet and exploded, satellite images suggest.
Photos taken by a powerful camera on an American orbiting spacecraft appear to show evidence of the probe's 12m (39ft) diameter parachute and a large dark patch that could be the scorched crash site.
Scientists estimate the spacecraft dropped from a height of two to four kilometres (1.2-2.4 miles) and hit the ground at more than 300kmh (186mph).
"It is also possible that the lander exploded on impact as its thruster propellant tanks were likely still full," the ESA said in a statement. "These preliminary interpretations will be refined following further analysis."
Experts have been trying to piece together what happened to the disc-shaped craft after it stopped transmitting less than a minute before it was due to land on Wednesday. Data received from the probe during the earlier part of its six-minute descent indicated its three clusters of retro rockets had fired for just two to three seconds instead of 29. It was also thought to have jettisoned its parachute too early.
The ESA's last attempt to land on Mars was in 2003, with Beagle 2, which never sent a signal from the surface.