European Space Agency Says Fate of its Mars Lander Unknown, But India Received Last Signal

The European Space Agency sent a Mars probe called Schiaparelli lander and it was supposed to land on Mars last week. However, European Space Agency confirmed that Schiaparelli lander, most probably did not survive its six-minute descent through Mar’s atmosphere yesterday, and is lost.

Several attempts were made by several countries to track the lander but all failed. However, India was the last country to receive a signal from the Schiaparelli lander.  The Giant Metre-wave Radio Telescope (GMRT) at Khodad Maharashtra detected and tracked the landing of a European Space Agency spacecraft on a Mars mission.

On Wednesday evening from 7.04 p.m., the GMRT clearly detected and tracked the weak signal emanating from Schiaparelli EDM, all the way into the last phases of the descent of module through the Martian atmosphere till 8.37 p.m.,” said GMRT Dean Yashwant Gupta.

There is no telescope bigger than India’s GMRT when it comes to observing faint Signals.

Built at $20 million and going operational in 1995, the GMRT is actually an array of 30 telescopes each observing radiation coming in from space with a wavelength in the order of metres – or radio-frequency. It works on a technique called aperture synthesis which allows multiple telescopes to act as a single giant antenna. So in effect, GMRT is like a one single telescope of size 25KM.

GMRT Maharashtra

There is no telescope bigger than the GMRT when it comes to observing in the metre wavelength, which corresponds to radio waves. As a result, it is often used to study distant galaxies, blackholes, quasars and other high-energy cosmic objects. And because of its sensitivity as well, the GMRT can be used to detect faint radio signals coming from objects closer to Earth – for example, a lander descending on Mars.

What happened to Schiaparelli lander?

ESA Exomars 2016
ESA Exomars 2016

Scientists found that a software glitch could have forced the lander’s parachute to separate sooner than necessary, causing the lander to crash at 300 km/hr. This information wouldn’t have been available now if not for the GMRT.

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