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U.K. space scientist Colin Pillinger dies at 70

(FILES) - A picture dated December 19, 2003 shows lead Scientist Professor Colin Pillinger clenching his hands while awaiting news of the safe separation of the Beagle 2 spacecraft lander from its orbiter on it's final leg of the journey to Mars at The Royal Geographic Society in London. British planetary scientist Colin Pillinger, the driving force behind the ill-fated Beagle 2 mission to Mars, died on May 8, 2014 at the age of 70, his family said. AFP PHOTO/Adrian DENNIS

LONDON: Colin Pillinger, an ebullient British space scientist who captured the popular imagination with his failed attempt to land a probe on Mars, has died. He was 70.

Pillinger's family said Thursday that he died at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge after suffering a brain hemorrhage while sitting in his garden in the university town.

Pillinger, a professor of interplanetary science at the Open University, was the driving force behind Beagle 2, a tiny craft that was supposed to land on Mars on Christmas Day in 2003 and search for signs of life.

But contact with the probe was lost soon after it separated from its European Space Agency Mars Express mother ship on Dec. 19. An investigation concluded that it probably burned up in the planet's atmosphere.

 

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