Beagle 2 Mars Lander: How It Was Lost and Found on Red Planet (Infographic)
After landing on Dec. 25, 2003, the ESA’s Beagle 2 spacecraft didn’t phone home. Its fate remained a mystery until Jan. 16, 2015, when the ESA announced the probe had been found in photos taken by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.
Beagle 2 landed in Isidis Planitia, a basin near the equator of Mars. Photos taken from orbit show that only two or three of the lander’s four solar panels appear to have deployed. The tiny 3-foot (1 meter) spacecraft’s post-landing software began executing but it is not known why it stopped. Because of the partial deployment of the robot’s mechanisms, its radio transmitter was blocked from contacting Earth.
On April 26, 2016, scientists with the University College London’s Mullard Space Science Laboratory revealed that new images from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which they billed as the sharpest views of Mars ever, revealed even better views of Beagle 2 on the surface of the Red Planet.