UK Open University professor Colin Pillinger, creator of the missing Mars lander Beagle 2 , admits "we have to begin to accept that, if Beagle 2 is on the surface, it is not active". This follows a further search for signals from the lander by the NASA Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) and European Space Agency Mars Express orbiters and the Jodrell Bank radio telescope in the UK.

Pillinger expected Mars Express to be used on 2 or 3 February to send a signal to tell Beagle to switch off and reload its computer, in the hope that the lander may then begin to communicate. The Mars Express and Mars Global Surveyor orbiters could be used to take high-resolution images of the Beagles 2's planned landing area in the hope of finding out whether the craft ever landed, he says.

Meanwhile, infrared images from the orbiting Mars Express have provided the "first direct confirmation" of frozen water on the planet's south pole, detecting vapourising molecules. NASA's Mars Global Surveyor and Mars Odyssey spacecraft had previously detected frozen water.

Source: Flight International