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British planetary scientist Colin Pillinger dies
Posted: Fri, May 9, 2014, 7:11 AM ET (1111 GMT)
Pillinger, Colin and Beagle 2 model (Open Univ.) Colin Pillinger, a planetary scientist who led an ill-fated British Mars lander mission more than a decade ago, died this week at age 70. Pillinger suffered a brain hemorrhage in his home and went into a deep coma; he passed away in a Cambridge hospital, his family announced Thursday. Pillinger, who early in his career studied lunar samples returned by the Apollo missions, is best known for leading the development of a small lander called Beagle 2 that flew to Mars with ESA's Mars Express orbiter in 2003. The spacecraft failed to contact Earth after the scheduled landing, and was presumed lost. Despite the failure, the mission elicited string public support in Britain and turned Pillinger into a celebrity and public advocate for space exploration.
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