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Last Updated: Tuesday December 20 2005 08:03 GMT

Beagle 2 craft 'spotted' on Mars

How Beagle 2 would have looked on Mars - Image: Beagle 2
The scientist behind a failed British mission to send a spacecraft to Mars thinks he might have spotted the Beagle 2 craft on the surface of the planet.

Beagle 2 was taken to Mars on board another spacecraft, but was lost when it tried to land on Christmas Day 2003.

Now Professor Colin Pillinger says new photos show that Beagle 2 did land, but didn't send a signal back to Earth.

He thinks the craft may have struck the surface of the planet too quickly, damaging its communication devices.

Professor Pillinger has spent the last two years studying photos of Mars looking for evidence of what happened to Beagle 2.

An image that may be Beagle 2 on Mars - Image: Beagle 2
The black triangles on Mars may be from Beagle 2
Now he thinks some images show what looks like the airbags designed to protect the craft in a crater close to the planned landing site.

Not everyone who has seen the images believes they are Beagle 2, but he thinks it's unlikely so many unusual features would be seen so close together otherwise.

A Nasa mission to Mars in 2006 will photograph the Red Planet in amazing detail, so could prove what happened to the mission.

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