The UK Space Agency has updated us on the status of the lost Beagle 2 probe, saying it had a successful landing on Mars back in 2003 -- and has been photographed sitting right where is was supposed to be by the latest NASA observer.
The UK Space Agency says the probe has been found "partially deployed" on the surface of the planet, with NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter taking snaps that show that the probe and its parachute and covers landed in the expected zone. There was no fiery crash.
A partial deployment of the solar panels appears to be the mundane reason the probe never phoned home, as all of the lander's panels needed to get out of the way for the radio transmitter to work. Basically, it just needed a slight push.
Original team member professor Mark Sims of the University of Leicester said: "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. The highly complex entry, descent and landing sequence seems to have worked perfectly and only during the final phases of deployment did Beagle 2 unfortunately run into problems." [UK Space Agency]