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  Beagle 2 heads straight for Mars
Updated 11 November 2003, 14.39
Beagle 2
The British-made Beagle 2 spacecraft is on the last leg of its six month journey to Mars, scientists say.

On Monday, it changed direction to put it on a direct route to the Red Planet.

Until then, it had been aimed slightly away from Mars. That meant it wouldn't smash into the planet and harm it if anything went wrong.

But everything's been running smoothly and Beagle 2 is set to touch down on Christmas Day, when it will start looking for signs of Martian life.

Beagle 2 is being carried by a mother ship called Mars Express.

On 19 December, the two spacecraft will separate.
Fact File
Beagle 2 facts
Beagle2 was launched in Kazakhstan on 2 June
It is on a 43.5 million mile journey to Mars
It now has 12.5 million miles left to travel

Mars Express will orbit the planet, while Beagle 2 will parachute down to the surface.

After bouncing down at 36mph on three large balloons, Beagle 2 will open up like a pocket watch, revealing its solar panels and other instruments.

It will then start poking around to try to uncover the secrets of the Red Planet.

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