NASA (probably) found ESA's lost Mars lander

NASA has likely spotted the European Space Agency's Schiaparelli Mars test lander, which went missing after it failed to make the gentle landing ESA had anticipated. The lander was likely spotted in a new image from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter; in it, we see a dark spot on the Red Planet's surface, as well as a light spot thought to be its parachute. All signs point toward the lander crashing into the surface and exploding upon impact.

The ESA's intention was to land the test lander gently onto Mars, but things didn't go as planned. The European team lost contact with the lander, and that left them to try to piece together the missing pieces. Here to aid is the photo you see below contrasted with a previous one: two new items are visible in it, one thought to be Schiaparelli's crash site and the other to be its parachute.

The crash landing would have resulted from a longer free fall than ESA expected; that itself would have been caused by the thrusters shutting off too early. The before image you see is from this past May. NASA points toward ESA's estimated landing location as further evidence, saying it very closely matches the coordinates of the dark spot in the photo.

The new photo will help aid the European Space Agency in its investigation of the matter, and may put the mystery to rest — at least in terms of where the lander disappeared. This lander was part of the space agency's larger ExoMars 2016 million, which also put an orbiter into orbit to probe Mars' atmosphere.