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Long Lost British Probe Found on Mars

David Parker, chief executive of the UK Space Agency, attends a news conference on the Beagle 2 mission in London, Jan. 16, 2015.

The European Space Agency says a British-built space probe that disappeared more than a decade ago on Mars has been found.

The British space agency said in a statement Friday that the Beagle 2 spacecraft "has been found partially deployed on the surface of the planet, ending the mystery of what happened to the mission."

The agency said the partial deployment "would explain why no signal or data was received" from the Beagle because "full deployment of all the solar panels was needed" to transmit data and receive commands from Earth.

The agency said there was "clear evidence" of the lost lander in satellite images taken by the U.S. space agency NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

Officials said the find showed that "the entry, descent and landing sequence for Beagle 2 worked and the lander did successfully touch down on Mars on Christmas Day 2003."

Britain's Beagle 2 was carried to the red planet on ESA's Mars Express. The Beagle was to report back from Mars using instruments designed to help search for signs of life, but nothing was heard after it was dropped off to make its landing.

British planetary scientist Colin Pillinger who was the driving force behind the mission died last year at the age of 70.

Beagle 2 was named after the ship Charles Darwin sailed when he formulated his theory of evolution.

Material for this report came from AP, AFP, and Reuters.

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