The 'Beagle 2' Mars Lander, which was previously thought to have been lost on its way to Mars, has been confirmed to have landed on the Red Planet 11 years ago – a revelation that ends years of mystery surrounding the fate of the craft.
Beagle 2 was thought to be an unsuccessful British landing spacecraft that formed part of the European Space Agency's Mars Express mission, executed in 2003. The space mission, which was supported by many UK academic groups and industrial companies, was expected to deliver important information from the planet's surface.
However, the spaceship was thought to have been lost following its landing on Christmas Day, 2003.
After more than 11 years of screening of images taken by the HiRISE camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), scientists are finally convinced that Beagle 2 had indeed landed on Mars. The Beagle 2 team apparently screened images from the NASA camera to confirm that the targets discovered are of the "correct size, shape, colour and dispersion to be Beagle 2", the UK Space Agency said in press release.
"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," Dr David parker, chief executive of the UK Space Agency said.
"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," Professor Mark Sims of the University of Leicester also said in the release.
"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," he added.