[Via Satellite 01-16-2015] NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) satellite has located the United Kingdom’s Beagle 2 lander mission, which was found partially deployed on the Martian surface. Images taken with the Ball Aerospace-built High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera showed that the lander did touchdown on the planet on Christmas Day in December 2003 and partially deployed its solar arrays. Beagle 2’s RF antenna remains hidden, however, preventing any chance of recovery. The spacecraft’s discovery provides some closure for an enigma that lasted more than a decade.
A collaborative project between academia and industry, Beagle 2 joined the European Space Agency’s Mars Express satellite on its trip to Mars. The orbiter is still operating today after beginning science operations in 2004.
Michael Croon, a former member of the European Space Agency’s Mars Express operations team, sifted through the HiRISE images for the lander. Later the Beagle 2 team, the HiRISE team and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) followed suit, confirming the objects found were the correct size, shape, color and dispersion to be Beagle 2.
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