The larger dark spot near the upper edge of the enlargement was likely formed by the Schiaparelli lander. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS
BERLIN (AP) - The European Space Agency says its experimental Mars probe crash-landed and may have exploded when it hit the surface of the red planet Wednesday.
NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has taken pictures showing a black spot in the area where the craft, called Schiaparelli, was meant to land.
The probe was meant to test technology for a more ambitious European Mars landing in 2020, and scientists say the data it sent back before going silent will prove useful for that mission.
ESA said Friday that, according to what its scientists have been able to piece together so far, Schiaparelli suffered problems during the last 50 seconds of its descent through the harsh Martian atmosphere.
The pictures taken by NASA suggest the probe's rocket fuel exploded on impact.
LINK: More details from NASA