Hopes were high that Beagle 2 would receive and respond to commands sent by Mars Express as it flew over the presumed landing site at around 12.15 GMT. Not only was Mars Express flying over Isidis Planitia at an altitude of just 220 miles (350 km), giving it an ideal listening position, but it was the first time that the primary communication link with the orbiter had been used during the Beagle 2 mission.
Speaking from the European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany, the ESA Science Director, Professor David Southwood, said," I have, I'm afraid, to make a sad announcement, that today, when we were in conditions we thought were very good for getting direct communication between Mars Express the 'mother ship' - and Beagle 2 the 'baby' we did not get any content of a signal, nor indeed a signal from the surface of Mars.
"This is not the end of the story. We have more shots to play but I have to say this is a setback."
"There are opportunities to contact Beagle still to come, though we've established today that it is certainly not in a particular communications mode that we had expected it to be in."
Professor Colin Pillinger, Beagle 2 lead scientist, expressed his thanks to everyone at ESOC for the efforts they had put in over the last few days.
"I think all I can say to the whole team at this stage is 'play to the final whistle'. It only takes a fraction of a second to score a goal, and that's the way we will have to look at this and not give up at this time, although it is the moment when we have to start looking at the future as well."
Efforts to contact Beagle 2 and to pin down its position on the Martian surface will continue in the weeks to come.
"We have another opportunity to look tomorrow in a more sensitive mode, the canister mode on Ma
Contact: Peter Barratt
Particle Physics & Astronomy Research Council