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Image may show Beagle 2 debris
Posted: Mon, Mar 8, 2004, 2:06 PM ET (1906 GMT)
Beagle 2 lander illustration (Beagle 2) Images from an orbiting spacecraft have revealed several objects that could be debris from the failed Beagle 2 Mars lander, scientists in London said Monday. Speaking at a conference at the Royal Society, project officials said an image from an unspecified spacecraft of Beagle 2's planned landing site showed four bright spots arrayed in a "string of pearls" that could be debris from the lander. Colin Pillinger, head of the Beagle 2 project, was skeptical, saying the bright spots could instead be electronic noise artifacts and not real objects. Beagle 2 was scheduled to land on Mars on December 25, but no signals were ever received from the spacecraft and the mission was written off last month. Scientists suggest that a dust storm may have reduced the density of the atmosphere at the time Beagle 2 arrived, keeping the spacecraft from slowing down as quickly as planned and perhaps preventing the lander's radar altimeter from turning on and sending a signal to deploy the lander's airbags. An analysis of images taken by Mars Express as Beagle 2 separated show another, unidentified object; scientists donít know if the object is real and, if so, how it might affected the lander.
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