Beagle gets another shot at space

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Beagle gets another shot at space

The team behind the Beagle spacecraft, which crashed on Mars on Christmas Day 2003, is to try again. But this time the project will aim for the Moon.

Nasa has given permission for the team, led by Professor Colin Pillinger, to attempt a landing on the Moon to search for water that could be used to support a human base.

"If you want to go back [to the Moon] for good, [water] has to be high on the priority list," Professor Pillinger told The Guardian.

"There are good reasons for thinking that there is water on the Moon. If you can demonstrate that there is water there you can save yourself a lot of resources."

Once on the Moon the craft will look for water by using a burrowing tool linked to a mass spectrometer that will analyse the chemical composition of the rock for traces of water.

The most likely landing zone will be at the Moon's south pole where the extreme cold could mean that water is retained as ice.

The landing craft will have to be very different from the original Beagle 2, which is thought to have run into trouble after parachutes failed to deploy during the Mars landing.

Instead the craft will be slowed by rockets which may allow it to take off and land at different points on the surface.
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