The remains of the Beagle 2 Mars probe has been found, after it was lost when it tried to land on the planet on Christmas Day in 2003.
It seems that just one small motor, which should have folded out the solar panels and allowed the probe to communicate with Earth, was behind the crash.
That means that the probe did not crash, as expected, but was simply unable to talk to Earth.
Beagle 2 hitchhiked to Mars with the European Space Agency’s Mars Express orbiter. It was supposed to detach from the orbiter and float down to Mars before sending a message on Christmas Day 2003 to tell its owners that it was safe. But a message never came.
Since then, nobody has known what happened to the probe and it was presumed lost, and the Beagle 2’s high-profile mission became a sometimes mocked failure.
But the UK Space agency has said that the probe was spotted by a camera on Nasa’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. That is the first time it has been seen since it detached from the orbiter on December 19, 2003.
The Beagle 2 was named after Charles Darwin's famous ship, and was the product of a unique space mission funded by private donations. It was the brainchild of Colin Pillinger — who raised money for the project through promotional campaigns.
Pillinger died in May last year. Many involved in the mission and on social media expressed regret that Pillinger didn't live to see the lander found.
Despite its small size and shoestring cost Beagle 2 contained some sophisticated hardware.
Elements of its miniaturised technology will be employed on ExoMars, the European rover that will be sent to Mars to search for signs of life in 2018.
Independent News Service