British planetary scientist Colin Pillinger, best known for his 2003 attempt to land a spacecraft on Mars, has died aged 70, his family have said. Prof Pillinger was at his home in Cambridge when he suffered a brain haemorrhage and fell into a deep coma. His family said he later died at Addenbrooke’s Hospital without regaining consciousness. His death was “devastating and unbelievable”, they said in a statement.
Dr David Parker, the chief executive of the UK Space Agency, led the tributes. He told the BBC that Prof Pillinger had played a critical role in raising the profile of the British space programme and had inspired “young people to dream big dreams”.
Prof Pillinger was the driving force behind the Beagle-2 probe, which was built to search for life on Mars.The little craft was carried piggyback to the Red Planet on a European satellite, but vanished without trace after being dropped off to make its landing. Edited from Colin Pillinger dies after brain haemorrhage.