The Beagle 2, which was a failed British lander from December of 2003 that went missing in action until 2013, was found by the team from University College London and from the University of Leicester, just when they released a series of sharper images of the surface of Mars.
Using the Super-Resolution Restoration (SRR) method, that consists on matching and stacking many images of the surface of Mars, they scientists pieced together a high definition version of the photo of the probe issued by Professor Mark Sims from the University of Leicester last year that confirmed that it was the Beagle 2.
With the Super-Resolution Restoration, the old images were able to be in-zoomed about 5 times, where Professor Jan-Peter Muller from the University College London Mullard Space Science Laboratory stated that now they have the equivalent of drone-eye vision anywhere on the surface of Mars where there are enough clear repeat pictures.
“It allows us to see objects in much sharper focus from orbit than ever before and the picture quality is comparable to that obtained from landers,” also said Jan-Peter Muller.
Due to a range of factors, including the optics used in telescopes, the limited bandwidths for relaying data back to Earth, and even the interference from the planet’s atmosphere, limits the resolution of the cameras to about 25cm (10 inches). But with the SRR, even with the limited resolution, objects as small as 5cm (2 inches) can be seen with that resolution.
What was the Beagle 2?
The Beagle 2 is a British landing spacecraft that formed part of the European Space Agency’s 2003 Mars Express mission. The Beagle 2 was named after HMS Beagle, which was a royal navy from the 19th century.
The spacecraft was successfully deployed from the Mars Express on 19 December 2003 and was scheduled to land on the surface of Mars on 25 December; however, no contact was received at the expected time of landing on Mars, with the ESA declaring the mission lost in February 2004, after numerous attempts to contact the spacecraft were made.
Beagle 2’s fate remained a mystery until January 2015, when it was located intact on the surface of Mars in a series of images from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter HiRISE camera. The images suggest that two of the spacecraft’s four solar panels failed to deploy, blocking the spacecraft’s communications antenna, so it wasn’t lost, it was just malfunctioning.
Source: University College London