Saturday, December 20, 2003

Christmas Day Present

E.U.'s Beagle 2 has successfully separated from its "mothership" for the final leg of the journey to Mars.

Mike McKay, flight operations director at the European Space Operations Centre (Esoc) at Darmstadt, Germany, confirmed the separation just after 1110 GMT.

The tiny probe will now glide the last three million kilometres to the Red Planet alone; silent, powerless and in hibernation mode.

The lander is expected to touch down on Mars on Christmas Day, to search for signs of life, past or present.

Two other probes are also scheduled for Mars landings.

The platform for the Beagle 2, Mars Express, will also go into orbit Christmas Day.

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