Mars ho! In about 24 hours, the Beagle 2 lander will descend to the surface of Mars, courtesy of the European Space Agency. After a few mighty bounces, encased in a giant rubber ball, the lander will open up and allow its instrument payload to start sampling the surface. This is the first in a trifecta of landers destined for Mars during the next month. NASA's landers, Spirit and Opportunity, land on January 3rd and January 24th.
The European Space Agency's Mars Express blasted off from Russia's Baikonur base today carrying the British-built Beagle 2 space probe atop a modified version of Russia's Soyuz rocket (a modified ICBM) tasked with finding water and life on Mars. Will it overcome the curse of Mars? Of 30 missions to Mars, 8 have gone as planed, a %74 Martian mission failure rate.