• Text size      
  • Send this article to a friend
  • Print this article

Professor behind Beagle 2 mission to Mars dies at 70

PIONEERING scientist Professor Colin Pillinger, who was the driving force behind Britain's Beagle 2 mission to Mars, has died aged 70.

The "inspirational" planetary scientist suffered a brain haemorrhage at his home in Cambridge and later died in hospital.

Prof Pillinger, a father of two who was awarded the CBE in 2003, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2005. His family said yesterday his death was "devastating and unbelievable".

He became a professor in interplanetary science at the Open University in 1991 and earned a host of other qualifications during his distinguished career, along with numerous awards.

But he was most famous for the ill-fated Beagle 2 mission to Mars, which was supposed to land on the planet on Christmas Day 2003 and search for signs of life, but vanished without a trace. It was last seen heading for Mars on December 19, after separating from its European Space Agency mothership Mars Express.

Prof Pillinger was a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society. Its deputy executive secretary, Robert Massey, said he expected tributes would be paid to him tomorrow at its AGM.

Mr Massey said: "Colin was an inspirational scientist. He wasn't afraid to challenge the establishment and get things done."

Contextual targeting label: 

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis.
If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.