European scientists are examining an image of the Beagle 2 Mars lander, taken moments after it was spun off from its mother ship, that also shows an unidentified object.
The mysterious blot on the photograph is being scrutinised as one of several potential reasons for the failure of the mission – Europe’s first attempt to land a probe on the Red Planet.
Mission controllers told a London meeting that they were also considering the possibility that Beagle 2 simply crashed onto the surface of Mars because the atmosphere on the planet was less dense than expected.
Scientists said they are examining photographs of the landing site that show four bright spots, dubbed the ”string of pearls,” that might be Beagle 2’s remains.
Beagle 2 has not been heard from since it was ejected from the European Space Agency’s Mars Express orbiter in mid-December. The 143 pound probe gave no answering signal to scheduled attempts to contact it on Christmas Day and has remained stubbornly silent ever since.