ESA Exomars 2016 ESA, ATG-medialab

The European Space Agency ESA confirmed Thursday that the Schiaparelli spacecraft went silent less than a minute before it was set to reach the Martian surface Wednesday.

ESA mission managers said Thursday morning that they need more time to understand what went wrong with Schiaparelli, and to figure out exactly where and in what condition the test lander ended up.

But the ExoMars team was optimistic that the capsule had collected enough data during its descent to set the stage for the next phase of the mission: the planned 2020 launch ofa life-hunting ExoMars rover.

"The test has yielded a huge amount of data," David Parker, ESA's director of human spaceflight and robotic exploration, said at a news conference early this morning.

In Photos: Europe's Schiaparelli Mars Landing Day

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