NASA Mars Exploration Program

Hard crash-landing may have wrecked Europe's Mars probe

Scientists say Europe's experimental Mars probe has hit the right spot but may have been destroyed in a fiery ball of rocket fuel because it was traveling too fast.

Pictures taken by a NASA satellite show a black spot where the Schiaparelli lander was meant to touch down Wednesday, the European Space Agency said. The images end days of speculation over the probe's likely fate following unexpected radio silence less than a minute before the planned landing.

The agency said in a statement that the probe dropped from a height of 2 to 4 kilometers (1.4 miles to 2.4 miles) and struck the surface at a speed exceeding 300 kph (186 mph), "therefore impacting at a considerable...