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Did NASA Destroy Europe's Mars Lander? Conspiracy Theory Suggests US Space Agency Shot Down Schiaparelli

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The Schiaparelli Mars lander lost contact with the European Space Agency (ESA) controllers on Oct. 19, about one minute before the European probe was about to land on the surface of the Red Planet.

Images taken by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter showed what appear as the parachute and crash site of the European lander suggesting that Schiaparelli may not have survived in its attempt to touch down on Mars.

It is suspected that the entry, descent and landing sequence of the probe did not go as planned, with the failure believed to be associated with the parachute's timing and the retro-rockets driving the lander into the surface of Mars. The lander appears to have suffered from a computer glitch.

The destruction of the European lander, which is part of the ExoMars 2016 mission, may have been the result of unforeseen events, but a new conspiracy theory claims that the loss of Schiaparelli is not an accident at all.

UFO enthusiast Scott Waring of Ufosightingsdaily.com suggested the idea that the Mars lander was intentionally shot down by NASA and that the U.S. space agency has actually done the same thing to a number of other probes that were launched to find evidence of extraterrestrial life.

Schiaparelli was supposed to land on the Meridiani Planum region of the Red Planet to test technologies for a future rover mission that will look for signs of alien life on Mars.

Waring said that NASA shot down the probe just as it has done to all other rival probes that were launched by other countries since 1989. Destroying other spacecraft appears to be an attempt on the part of NASA to ensure it will be the first space agency to announce the existence of alien life.

"Now there is no way NASA will permit any other country to get the first dibs on discovering life on Mars," Waring wrote. "How many other Mars exploration missions has NASA destroyed sent by other countries."

The conspiracy theorist claimed that NASA was responsible for the destruction of the Phobos Russian Probe in 1989 as well as the Russian Mars lander in 2011.

Landing a probe on Mars is notoriously difficult, and Schiaparelli is not the first failed Mars mission. NASA is fortunate enough to have successfully landed Martian probes on the Red Planet. The U.S. space agency's Curiosity rover has already collected evidence that suggest water flows intermittently in today's Mars.

The Schiaparelli lander could have been the first European probe to land on Mars.

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