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Missing Space Probe: Mars Landing in 2003 Was Actually a Success

Image: Missing Space Probe: Mars Landing in 2003 Was Actually a Success
"(The images) show that the lander survived its Dec. 25, 2003, touchdown enough to at least partially deploy its solar arrays," NASA said. (Melville/Reuters/Landov)

By    |   Friday, 16 Jan 2015 01:48 PM

The Beagle 2, a missing space probe sent to Mars by the United Kingdom 12 years ago and never heard from again, actually made it to the Red Planet, imagery from NASA confirmed Friday.

The probe was expected to land in 2003, but scientists assumed it was lost until NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter sent back photos of the probe on the planet’s surface.

"(The images) show that the lander survived its Dec. 25, 2003, touchdown enough to at least partially deploy its solar arrays," NASA said.

Although the news was welcome in Britain, the Daily Mail reported that it was a shame it came just eight months after the Beagle 2 mission "mastermind" Professor Colin Pillinger died.

Pillinger was subject to a lot of criticism after the Beagle 2 vanished, although he always insisted that the probe made it to Mars.

"I am delighted that Beagle 2 has finally been found on Mars," Mark Sims, of the University of Leicester, U.K., and the Beagle 2 mission manager, told NASA. "Every Christmas Day since 2003 I have wondered what happened to Beagle 2. My Christmas Day in 2003 alongside many others who worked on Beagle 2 was ruined by the disappointment of not receiving data from the surface of Mars. To be frank I had all but given up hope of ever knowing what happened to Beagle 2. The images show that we came so close to achieving the goal of science on Mars."

Pillinger’s daughter, Shusanah Pillinger, told the Mail that her father would have been thrilled to know of the Beagle’s success in landing.

"This shows such an immense success and not forgetting all the other things that went on in the background of Beagle 2, all the promotion of science, all of the inspiration to children," she told the Mail. "He would love that this is in the news again. He would love that this could inspire that next generation to do Beagle 3."

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The Beagle 2, a missing space probe sent to Mars by the United Kingdom 12 years ago and never heard from again, actually made it to the Red Planet, imagery from NASA confirmed Friday.
missing, space, probe, mars
326
2015-48-16
Friday, 16 Jan 2015 01:48 PM
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