UK & World News

  • 8 May 2014, 12:06

Mars Mission Scientist Colin Pillinger Dies

Planetary scientist Professor Colin Pillinger, best known for his involvement in Britain's Beagle 2 Mars mission, has died aged 70.

Prof Pillinger was the driving force behind the ultimately doomed Mars lander, and was awarded a CBE in 2003.

His spokesman said he suffered a brain haemorrhage at his home in Cambridge and later died in hospital.

His family said his death was "devastating and unbelievable".

He was best-known for the 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.

It was last spotted heading for Mars on December 19, after separating from its European Space Agency mothership.

He became a professor in interplanetary science at the Open University in 1991.

He began his career at Nasa, analysing samples of moon rock on the Apollo programme, and earned several other qualifications during his career.

He was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2005.