The Beagle2 space probe has been found on Mars.
THe Beagle2 Probe was lost on Christmas Day in 2003 when it tried to make a soft landing on the red planet. The UK Space Agency was never able to make contact with the space probe and many assumed that it had been destroyed during the landing.
Well, they were wrong. NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter just took some photos of the probe intact on the surface of Mars.
— Observing Space (@ObservingSpace) January 16, 2015
Alvaro Giménez, ESA’s Director of Science and Robotic Exploration, said: “We are very happy to learn that Beagle-2 touched down on Mars. The dedication of the various teams in studying high-resolution images in order to find the lander is inspiring … Not knowing what happened to Beagle-2 remained a nagging worry. Understanding now that Beagle-2 made it all the way down to the surface is excellent news.”
While the Beagle2 is mainly intact, the ESA says that it is clear that the probe was not deployed properly. The BBC reports that the Beagle2 had a series of solar panels that were to unfurl once the probe touched the surface. This didn’t work, however, and the ESA was never able to contact the probe.
— Sophia Cannon (@UndercoverMutha) January 16, 2015
Prof Mark Sims, Beagle’s mission manager from Leicester University, said: “Without full deployment, there is no way we could have communicated with it as the radio frequency antenna was under the solar panels … The failure cause is pure speculation, but it could have been, and probably was, down to sheer bad luck – a heavy bounce perhaps distorting the structure as clearances on solar panel deployment weren’t big; or a punctured and slowly leaking airbag not separating sufficiently from the lander, causing a hang-up in deployment.”