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Is there life on Mars? Scientists await news from European mission to Mars

Mars probe approaches the red planet

The European Space Agency (ESA) is anxiously awaiting news from its probe on Mars after it fell mysteriously silent in the last few meters of its 310 million mile journey from Earth.

After entering the Mars atmosphere, the 600kg craft, known as Schiaparelli, should have deployed a parachute before touching down six minutes later somewhere near the planet's equator.

This artist impression provided by the European Space Agency, ESA, shows the Schiaparelli module with thrusters firing. On Wednesday Oct. 19, 2016 Schiaparelli will enter the martian atmosphere at an altitude of about 121 km and a speed of nearly 21 000 km/h. Less than six minutes later it will have landed on Mars.
ESA | ATG-medialab | AP

However, ESA has yet to receive any confirmation of a safe landing. Nonetheless, the agency told reporters that it was "refusing to jump to conclusions" and would wait to analyse data being beamed to earth via the orbiting Mars Express spacecraft, which followed Schiaparelli to earth.

European Space Agency Operations tweeted Wednesday afternoon that the status of the lander was still unclear.

This could take several hours.

To check on progress, ESA is using an Indian telescope will try to capture the signals emitted by the probe which are then relayed to mission control in Germany.

The Schiaparelli spacecraft launched in March 2016 and a more elaborate venture is scheduled by the same group of ESA scientists in four years' time.

In 2003 the Europe backed Beagle-2 lander got to the Mars surface successfully but suffered a malfunction on touchdown.

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