NASA (@NASA) January 16, 2015
British scientists rejoiced today, Jan. 16, after images of the surface of Mars taken by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter detected the crash site of the Beagle 2 spacecraft.
The European Space Agency’s 2003 Mars Express mission failed in part after the Mars Express Orbiter lost communication with the Beagle 2 lander on Christmas Day, 2003. The probe was officially declared missing on February 6, 2004, and has been considered lost ever since. The orbiter itself, however, has continuously carried out important scientific experiments to this day, making the overall mission a success.
The lost status of the lander was changed today when NASA’s High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera found the missing probe, close to its planned landing zone. The images show that the Beagle 2 never fully deployed its solar panels, which prevented communication with the Mars Express Orbiter. The spacecraft is less than 6 feet in length and appears to be in good condition, although scientists will never be able to use it to gather information.
This discovery, which comes after years of scientists looking through HiRISE images, makes the Beagle 2 the first British and European spacecraft to successfully land on Mars.
UK Space Agency (@spacegovuk) January 16, 2015
The mystery of the Beagle 2 and the Red Planet has been solved! Read what has scientists so excited…