Week in Geek: Blast from the past edition

NASA/HiRISE/Leicester

Just over eleven years ago, the European Space Program launched the Mars Express mission consisting of the Mars Express Orbiter and the Beagle 2 lander (built in the UK). The orbiter successfully reached Mars in December 2003 and jettisoned the lander towards the surface, but after entering Mars’s atmosphere, the lander was never heard from again. Scientists came up with many theories as to what may have gone wrong, but there was no way to know what really happened. Until now.

Images taken in December by NASA’s HiRISE instrument aboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter seem to show the Beagle 2 lander on the surface of Mars, with its solar arrays only partially deployed. Fully deployed, the lander would only be 2 meters across, which is just at the edge of the detection capabilities of HiRISE. Analysts have determined that the location of the object in question is close to the intended landing site (within 3 miles) and the structure appears to be of the right size, shape, and color that would be detected at such a distance. There’s even a possibility that additional spots on the surface could be the landers parachute and rear cover.

University of Leicester/Beagle 2/NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

NASA released this video to explain how scientists deduced these tiny blips on the Martian surface could be Beagle 2:

If this is indeed Beagle 2, UK scientists can rest easy knowing that they did indeed land on Mars.

Here’s some geek that hasn’t been missing for over a decade:

Keep on geeking! @Summer_Ash

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Week in Geek: Blast from the past edition