Beagle 2 was a pioneering spacecraft that most likely made a too-harsh landing on Mars. All contact with Beagle 2 was lost after it was launched from orbit in 2003. This model of the Beagle 2 is on display at the Liverpool Spaceport in Liverpool, England.

Photograph by Mike Peel (, courtesy Wikimedia. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 International license.

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  • 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.
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    astronomer Noun

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

    atmosphere Noun

    layers of gases surrounding a planet or other celestial body.

    Encyclopedic Entry: atmosphere
    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


    landscape Noun

    the geographic features of a region.

    Encyclopedic Entry: landscape
    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.

    planet Noun

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

    Encyclopedic Entry: planet
    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.