On December 25, 2003, astronomers lost contact with Beagle 2, a spacecraft sent to study the planet Mars. The spacecraft was never heard from again, although the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter located the debris in 2015.
 
Beagle 2 was a space probe, developed by the European Space Agency (ESA), to search for evidence of life on Mars. It was named after the Beagle, the 19th-century ship on which Charles Darwin made groundbreaking discoveries about life on Earth. 
 
Although there have been many “flyby” missions to Mars, few have managed to make it to the surface of the Red Planet. Less than a month after the loss of Beagle 2, however, NASA, the American space agency, successfully landed Spirit. Spirit was a rover that provided data about the Martian landscape until 2010.
astronomer
Noun

person who studies space and the universe beyond Earth's atmosphere.

Noun

layers of gases surrounding a planet or other celestial body.

communication
Noun

sharing of information and ideas.

data
Plural Noun

(singular: datum) information collected during a scientific study.

develop
Verb

to expand or grow.

evidence
Noun

data that can be measured, observed, examined, and analyzed to support a conclusion.

groundbreaking
Adjective

innovative or pioneering.

harsh
Adjective

extreme.

Noun

the geographic features of a region.

NASA
Noun

(National Aeronautics and Space Administration) the U.S. space agency, whose mission statement is "To reach for new heights and reveal the unknown so that what we do and learn will benefit all humankind."

orbit
Noun

path of one object around a more massive object.

Noun

large, spherical celestial body that regularly rotates around a star.

prevent
Verb

to keep something from happening.

provide
Verb

to give or make available.

rover
Noun

vehicle that remotely explores a region, such as the surface of a moon, planet, or other celestial body.

satellite
Noun

object that orbits around something else. Satellites can be natural, like moons, or made by people.

spacecraft
Noun

vehicle designed for travel outside Earth's atmosphere.

space probe
Noun

set of scientific instruments and tools launched from Earth to study the atmosphere and composition of space and other planets, moons, or celestial bodies.