Upfront mission

July 2, 2004

Michael Merrifield appears to believe that because no one asked for his opinion about Beagle 2 , it sneaked into being through the back door (Letters, June 25). How wrong can he be? We were selected in response to an Announcement of Opportunity from the European Space Agency; actually, we went through the process twice when the ESA moved the goalposts. Throughout the mission, the ESA, Nasa, the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council, the Office of Science and Technology and even an independent review board all had their opportunity to comment.

Two-thirds of missions to Mars don't make it, perhaps Merrifield is overlooking the fact that the community thought the benefits of trying outweighed the risks.

The management of Beagle 2 will be in the spotlight again next week as the UKParliamentary Science and Technology Select Committee starts its investigation.

Colin Pillinger
Beagle 2 lead scientist

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