Odyssey orbiter's view of the Beagle landing site
Posted: December 26, 2003

NASA's Mars Odyssey spacecraft, which is listening for transmissions of the still-missing British Beagle 2 lander, snapped this image of the basin where the tiny craft should have arrived Christmas Day.

The photo was taken by the orbiter before Beagle's planned 0254 GMT landing.

Credit: NASA/JPL/Arizona State University
Protected by impact-cushioning airbags, the lander was supposed to come to rest somewhere in this scene taken by Odyssey's Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS).

"This THEMIS image covers a portion of the Isidis Basin at the center of an elliptical region predicted to be the location that Beagle 2 will bounce to the surface. And what a surface it is, pockmarked by strange pits and unusual cones whose origin remains enigmatic," Odyssey scientists wrote in the release of this image.

"The cones may be the result of lava flowing over ice or water-rich ground resulting in explosions of steam that build small 'rootless' volcanoes.

"The pits look like secondary craters that result from the impact of ejecta from larger craters. But they appear too numerous and densely clustered for that explanation. Instead, they also may be the result of some process involving water or ice.

"With luck, Beagle 2 will survive its violent landing and provide clues to the origin of this unusual landscape and answer questions about the role of water in Mars history."

But two days after Beagle's landing, the craft has yet to phone home.

See our Mission Status Center for continuing updates on the Beagle search.