The Scotsman cartoon: Beagle 2 spacecraft found

Illustration: Brian Adcock

Illustration: Brian Adcock

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A British spacecraft which disappeared as it approached Mars in search of alien life successfully landed on the Red Planet’s surface, scientists behind the £50 million project said.

High resolution pictures taken by Nasa’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft show The Beagle 2 probe, which had not been seen or heard from since December 2003 and had been presumed destroyed, they said.

The images taken from 185 miles above Mars in 2013 and again last year show that the small lander, the size of a large motorcycle tyre, touched down successfully just 5km from its intended landing site in Isidis Planitia.

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