ESA has completed the investigation in the fall «Schiaparelli» on Mars

© Photo : Apostacy module Schiaparelli separated from the main block of the orbital trace gas OrbiterESA has completed the investigation in the fall «Schiaparelli» on Mars© Photos : ESA

Engineers and experts, ESA has completed the investigation into the causes of the fall of the descent module «Schiaparelli» on Mars and came to the conclusion that the causes of the disaster wore software and not hardware in nature, the website of the Agency.

«Lander «Schiaparelli» were very close to solving the tasks set before him and a soft landing on the surface of Mars at the point where we planned it to land. We have accomplished most of its objectives, which allows us to eliminate the shortcomings and to prepare for the flight to Mars in 2020,» write the authors of the report published on the ESA website.

In October 2016, a joint Russian-European mission «Eczemas-TGO» arrived to the red planet and tried to solve two critical tasks – the output TGO of the probe into a stable orbit Mars and landing demonstration lander «Schiaparelli» on the plateau of Meridian at the equator of the red planet.

Landing lander is unsuccessful, the probe dropped the parachutes and shut off the engines at a height of 3-4 km, after which he collapsed on the surface of Mars and crashed. A preliminary investigation of the cause of the crash revealed that it occurred because of failures in the so-called «measure of inertia» (IMU), the device monitoring the speed of rotation of the module around its axis.

Program citywave data from the sensor, incorrectly interpreted the results of measurements that he passed her, and «discovered» that the probe is on Mars and beneath the surface that made the main OS «Schiaparelli» to reset the parachutes and cut the engines.

In General, a full report of the ESA, published this week, confirms this theory – software lander was not taken into account the possibility of error and the negative heights in the work of IMU and altimeter «Schiaparelli» and tried to recheck conflicting information that we were given different sensors of the lender.

To think the unthinkable

Obtaining such data in IMU, the report stresses, is not a hardware problem, such anomalies usually are «clean» special data processing algorithms, preconfigured to work in those conditions, where it will presumably work the measure of inertia. This setting, as experts of ESA, was not carried out correctly, which forced the IMU to give incorrect results for unacceptably long periods of time.

Incorrect setting in turn, was associated with misconceptions about how it will behave parachute «Schiaparelli» in its disclosure in the atmosphere of Mars in the presence of strong wind gusts, asymmetric disclosure of the dome and other non-ideal situations. In other words, the lander was rotating much faster after its erection, it was expected by the creators of its operating system. This problem was eliminated with the help of NASA, whose experts helped ESA to calculate all scenarios of opening the parachute.

Why all these problems were not disclosed during testing «Schiaparelli» on the Ground? The investigation showed ESA, this was the fault of the subcontractors, conducted the testing IMU and those parts of the operating system of the lender that worked with him. The report noted that «(no) didn’t measure how long the sensor IMU could produce anomalous values, and the duration of this time was assumed to be 15 milliseconds». This problem, the experts of ESA called «fundamental cause» of the disaster on Mars.

Interestingly, the engineers believe that the landing could be completed successfully even after ejection of the parachute and turn on the engines, if the operating system is «Schiaparelli» used radar and other devices for determining the position of the lender on two axes in a «state of emergency», and did not turn off the engines after only 3 seconds of work.

All of these problems and possible solutions to them, as I hope the authors of the report will be considered in the development of the landing platform for the Rover «Pasteur», which will be developed in the Russian NPO Lavochkin with the use of technology and data obtained during the analysis of the causes of the failed landing «Schiaparelli».