REPUBLIKA.CO.ID, FRANKFURT -- European scientists are still not certain whether a space lander that reached Mars on Wednesday touched down on the Red Planet in good working condition, the European Space Agency (ESA) said. "The landing test still gives us some open questions we have to analyse," ESA Director General Jan Woerner told journalists on Thursday, adding he could not say whether the disc-shaped 577-kg (1,272 lb) Schiaparelli probe was still in one piece.
Scientists said data had been received showing the lander's heat shield and parachutes deployed successfully, but that it was unclear what happened in the final seconds before landing and no data had yet been received from the surface. Schiaparelli, 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.
Meanwhile, a U.S. astronaut and two Russian cosmonauts blasted off from Kazakhstan on Wednesday for a two-day journey to the International Space Station. The Soyuz space ship carrying NASA's Shane Kimbrough and Russians Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrey Borisenko lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome at 14:05 local time (0805 GMT) and reached orbit about eight minutes later.
It will travel in space for two days before docking at the station, which orbits about 250 miles (400 km) above Earth. The trio will replace three ISS crew members - Kate Rubins of NASA, Anatoly Ivanishin of Roscosmos and Takuya Onishi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency - who are due to return to Earth on Oct.29.
Wednesday's launch was originally scheduled for Sept.23, but was postponed because of technical problems with the Soyuz that have since been fixed.