UK Mars mission scientist dies

Photo: Mike Peel.

Beagle 2 creator Professor Colin Pillinger has died.

British scientist Professor Colin Pillinger has died at the age of 70 from a brain haemorrhage.


The famous planetary scientist was the driving force behind Britain’s Mars lander Beagle 2, the UK’s first attempt at a Mars landing.

The name of the lander was a reference to the boat that took Charles Darwin to the Galapagos Islands, HMS Beagle.

Professor Pillinger, who was awarded a CBE in 2003 for services to education and science, suffered a brain haemorrhage at his home in Cambridge and died later in hospital.

Pillinger had a long and successful career as a space scientist. He graduated from Swansea University (then the University College of Swansea) with a PhD in Chemistry before beginning his career at NASA.

While at the American space agency he analysed lunar samples from the Apollo 11 mission. In 1991 he became a professor in Interplanetary Science at the Open University before joining the European Space Agency (ESA) in 1997.

Pillinger was responsible for the Beagle 2 Mars lander mission as part of the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Mars Express mission. Unfortunately Beagle 2 lost contact with Earth on Christmas Day 2003.

An asteroid in the belt between Mars and Jupiter – 15614 Pillinger – is named after him.



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