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Latest Efforts to Contact European Mars Probe Fail - 2003-12-29


The latest effort by scientists to pick up signals from the European Space Agency's Beagle II Mars probe has ended in failure.

The British-built Beagle was supposed to have landed on the red planet Thursday, and to have sent a signal back to Earth. Anxious engineers at the European Space Agency have heard nothing so far after the U.S. orbiter, the Mars Odyssey, earlier Monday made its fifth pass over the area where the probe had been due to land.

Scientists also have aimed huge telescopes in Jodrell Bank in Britain and Stanford University in California at the Red Planet in failed efforts to pick up possible signals.

European Space Agency officials say they have not given up and believe the Beagle is somewhere on the Martian surface. They say the Mars Express orbiter, which is circling the planet, will change its orbit later this week and be in a better position to pick up a signal from the Beagle January 4. The Mars Express released the probe for its descent to the planet's surface a week ago.

The Beagle II is supposed to probe the Martian surface and atmosphere for signs of life. Two U.S.-built probes are scheduled to land on Mars next month.

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