Brussels, 12 Feb 2004
The UK's Science Minister, Lord Sainsbury, and the European Space Agency (ESA) announced a joint inquiry on 11 February, which will investigate the loss of the British-made Beagle 2 lander, which disappeared as it was due to land on Mars on Christmas Day.
The investigation, which is described as routine, will look into the decision processes, funding levels, inter-agency cooperation and any other issues that may have led to the project's failure.
Lord Sainsbury declared: 'I believe such an inquiry will be very useful. The reasons identified by the inquiry board will allow the experience gained from Beagle 2 to be used for the benefit of future European planetary exploration missions.'
The inquiry board will begin work shortly, and will report back to both Lord Sainsbury and Jean-Jacques Dordain, Director-General of ESA, by the end of March 2004. The board will assess the available data on the in-orbit operations and the on-ground tests, as well as looking into factors such as the level of funding, management and interaction between the various entities to determine what might have caused the failure of the mission.
For further information, please consult the ESA website: