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Beagle 2 Lander Found Lodged In Space Station
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CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida - Flight controllers were stunned Wednesday when Astronaut and current Space Station resident Michael Foale said he saw "something, something big, sticking out of the Zvezda module." The Russian module houses the living quarters and galley for the crew. Moving the station's robotic arm's camera into position revealed that the object was the European Beagle 2 lander, thought to have been lost on the surface of Mars.

The Beagle is now considered to be the cause of the air leak that had been detected on the station. It was this leak that caused Foale and Russian colleague Alexander Kaleri to initiate a search that led to the discovery. "There is a very slight venting around the impact point," said NASA official Ed Weiler, "but the crew is in no danger. There is a slight scratching sound created by the lander's instruments. Apparently the unit believes it is on Mars and is attempting to 'study' the station. But this is more of a nuisance than a real problem for the crew."

Embarrassed ESA officials were unable to explain how the Beagle could have gotten so far off course. Particularly puzzling is how the telemetry from the craft had suggested it entered the Martian atmosphere, when it apparently instead impacted with the station in November. "I knew I heard something," said Foale, referring to his report in November of hearing a "metallic noise" from the Zvezda module.

With the space shuttle fleet grounded, there are few answers for removing the Beagle and fixing the leak. EVA's -- space walks -- require two people and NASA is loathe to leave the station empty. NASA officials are in talks with their counterparts in the European Space Agency (ESA) on any automated systems the Beagle may contain that could be used to dislodge it from the station, though they warn that removing it may be more dangerous than allowing it to remain.
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