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Dublin: 16 °C Saturday 4 July, 2020

A robot missing since 2003 has been found on Mars

Beagle 2 has been missing since it was due to land on Mars on Christmas Day 2003.

A model of the Beagle 2.
A model of the Beagle 2.
Image: UKSA

THE UK’S SPACE Agency has announced that the Beagle 2 lander, thought missing since 2003, landed successfully on Mars.

Images released today show that the Entry, Descent and Landing (EDL) sequence for Beagle 2 worked and the lander did successfully touchdown on Mars on Christmas Day 2003.

Beagle 2 hitched a ride to Mars on ESA’s Mars Express mission and was a collaboration between industry and academia. It would have delivered world-class science from the surface of the Red Planet.

Images taken by the HiRISE camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter have identified clear evidence for the lander and convincing evidence for key entry and descent components on the surface of Mars.

Dr David Parker, Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency, said that the discovery made Beagle 2 more successful than anticipated.

“The history of space exploration is marked by both success and failure. This finding makes the case that Beagle 2 was more of a success than we previously knew and undoubtedly an important step in Europe’s continuing exploration of Mars.”

3.1 edsl (1)

Unfortunately, given the partial deployment, it is not possible to revive Beagle 2 and recover data from it.

Professor Mark Sims of the University of Leicester who led the Beagle 2 flight operations team said that the discovery was a relief.

“I am delighted that Beagle 2 has finally been found on Mars. 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.”

The images show that the lander bounced at least ten times.

3.2  0U c EDL deceleration

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