NASA finds lost Mars rover

17 Jan

In a press conference this morning the ESA (European space agency) confirm that NASA found their Beagle 2 rover that has been lost for over a decade. It was on Monday, Jan. 12, the HIRise camera on NASA’s MRO (Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter) spotted what they suspected was the missing rover. After studying the images over the course of the week it was confirmed that is was indeed the Beagle 2 rover.

“The history of space exploration is marked by both success and failure,” UK Space Agency Chief David Parker said in a statement. “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.”

The story started on June 2, 2003 when the Beagle 2 rover was launched from Balkonur Cosmodrome in Kazakstan. The rover rode on a Soyuz-FG rocket as part of the ESA’s Mars express mission to take soil sample and collect data for signs of life. After a 6+ month long voyage the rover was deployed into a Martian orbit on Dec. 19 and was never seen or heard from again. It was never known if the rover completed the the decent to the planet surface or lost in space.

“To be frank, I had all but given up hope of ever knowing what happened to Beagle 2,” said former Beagle 2 mission manager Mark Sims, of the University of Leicester, in the UK Space Agency statement. “The images show that we came so close to achieving the goal of science on Mars. The images vindicate the hard work put in by many people and companies both here in the UK and around Europe and the world in building Beagle 2.”

Shortly after the rover went missing the conspiracy theories started flying on what could be the reason behind the disappearance. These theories ranged from a cover-up to hid data showing life and man-made structures, the United State destroying it to alien abduction. The truth turned far less dramatic though when the NASA images showed that the rover did in fact make its Christmas land but just failed to open up its solar panels and communication array.

“Beagle 2 wasn’t a failure by any stretch of the imagination,” Sims said. “We trained a whole generation of engineers and scientists in Mars exploration.”

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