End of the EDM – ESA confirmed failed landing

EDM lander deployed from Trace Gas Orbiter on October 16, 2016, should perform gently touch down somewhere on 4710 square kilometers elliptical landing zone at Meridiani Planum on October 19. According to present news from ESA, lander reached landing zone, but later it probably crashed after preliminary deployment from conical shaped upper part of heat shield system. 

After entering Mars atmosphere at 14:42 GMT on October 19, 2016, EDM performed lasting probably around 6 minutes descent maneuver. During its flight, it should break through dense layers of atmosphere being protected by thermal protection system; next it should deploy 12 m parachute to reduce speed and release bottom heat shield. Next phase covered deploying EDM from upper conical heat shield with parachute and free fall to Mars surface. Shortly before moment of hit, three groups of thrusters should be started and reduce speed before collision. Finally it should fall on Mars surface with speed of 30 km/h - shock caused by the collision should be fully absorbed by inner structure of lander.

On October 19, lander actually entered atmosphere of Mars and deployed parachute correctly. Problems appeared later - according to previous ESA reports, lander started was deployed from upper conical heat shield too early. Also thrusters (which burned for around 4 seconds) were started on higher altitude than originally planned. Their burn time was insufficient for speed reducing, what probably caused crashing and destroying lander. Further analysis of telemetry data from EDM transmitted by TGO, along with low resolution pictures provided by NASA Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, gave more detailed view on last moments of EDM mission. First of all, ESA announced yesterday, that lander hit into surface of Mars from altitude of around 2 km - 4 km with speed exceeding 300 km/h, what confirms previous assumptions. Lander reached Meridiani Planum, what was confirmed by pictures provided by MRO. They are showing dark and light points on the position of 353.79° E, 2.07° S, around 5.4 km from landing point planned inside 100 km x 15 km ellipse on Meridiani Planum. Light point on pictures from MRO could be (according to ESA) 12 m parachute; dark point could be part of lander, which hit into Mars with tanks full of not fully burned hydrazine. Still final report on EDM will be announced later, after collecting more data and after collecting more data and deeper analysis and encoding all data transmitted from TGO.