Without doubt, a Beagle 3 mission should compete with other world-class projects ("Pillinger launches plea for Beagle 3 ", June 18). However, this time round we need a full evaluation of all the facts before the funding is committed.
In a Beagle 2 post-mortem press conference, Colin Pillinger put forward his initial vision for the next mission to Mars, which consisted of launching five Beagle 2 clones in the expectation that two of them would work. Had the community been aware that the principal investigator's own evaluation of Beagle 2 gave it only a 40 per cent chance of success, the agencies involved might have viewed the original project differently when weighing it up against the other demands on overstretched budgets.
Michael R. Merrifield