Taking a leap forward in the study of Mars, European engineers began construction on the Beagle 2, a lander slated to hit the red planet in 2003.



The robot craft will probe rocks, dig into the soil and sniff the air, checking for organic matter and other life-related chemical compounds like atmospheric methane.



The Beagle 2, named after Charles Darwin’s sea ship HMS Beagle, will hitch a ride with the Mars Express, a European Space Agency craft that will orbit the red planet.

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