The Beagle-2 Mars lander,hitched a ride on ESA’s Mars Express mission in 2003 and was released from the mothership on December 19th with a planned landing 6 days later.  

Then it was lost. Mars Express and NASA’s Mars Odyssey found nothing. 

But now the high-resolution camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has found it on the surface.  The good news is engineers now know that at least the entry, descent and landing sequence worked and it did indeed successfully 'land' on Mars on Christmas Day 2003. Beagle-2 was less than 2 meters across when fully deployed so catching sight of it was right at the limit of the resolution of cameras in orbit around Mars.


Close-up of Beagle-2 on Mars and maybe the parachute? Credit: NASA

After the identification of potential counterparts to Beagle-2 in the expected landing of Isidis Planitia, a large impact basin close the Martian equator, further images were obtained and analysed by the camera team, the Beagle-2 team and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The images show the lander in what appears to be a partially deployed configuration, with only one, two or at most three of the four solar panels open, and with the main parachute and what is thought to be the rear cover with its pilot/drogue parachute still attached close by. 

 The size, shape, color and separation of the features are consistent with Beagle-2 and its landing components, and lie within the expected landing area at a distance of about 5 km from its center.

Source: ESA