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ESA: We don't know if Mars lander survived

The European Space Agency says it's still not certain whether the space probe that reached Mars is in working condition. The Schiaparelli lander touched down on the Red Planet on Wednesday evening Central European time.

European scientists said Thursday they had successfully received data from the probe but it remains unclear whether it has survived the journey through Mars' atmosphere.

Researchers said data had been received showing the lander's heat shield and parachutes had deployed successfully, but that they have no data to confirm the final seconds before landing. Similarly, no data had yet been received from the surface, they added.

"The lander did not behave as expected. It will take some time to analyze the data," European Space Agency head of solar and planetary missions, Andrea Accomazzo, the European Space Agency head of solar and planetary missions, told a media briefing on Thursday. He added that all the data received was "meaningful."

When asked by a member of the audience at a press conference streamed live over the internet how likely it was the lander is still in one piece, ESA Director General Jan Woerner said, "We don't know."

Schiaparelli was dispatched to the surface of Mars after a seven-year, 496 million-kilometer (308 million-mile) journey from Earth.

The probe, which is testing technologies for a rover due to follow in 2020, represents only the second European attempt to land a craft on the Red Planet.

mm/rg (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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