Alex James from Blur, who worked with Prof Pillinger on the Beagle 2 project, has paid tribute to the scientist
The Essex musician-turned-farmer helped to finance the space project and the band created the probe's call sign.
"Colin had the rare gift of being able to make things that were complicated and ambitious seem simple and achievable. We need more scientists like that. He was unique, and I will miss him."
The family of planetary scientist Professor Colin Pillinger told the BBC his death was "devastating and unbelievable".
The pioneering scientist, who was best known for the ill-fated Beagle 2 mission to Mars, became a professor in interplanetary science at the Open University in 1991.
He also earned a host of other qualifications and numerous awards during his prestigious career.
Planetary scientist Professor Colin Pillinger, who died today aged 70, was most famous for the ill-fated Beagle 2 mission to Mars.
The craft was supposed to land on the planet on Christmas Day 2003 and search for signs of life but vanished without a trace.
It was last seen heading towards the red planet on December 19 after separating from its European Space Agency mothership Mars Express.
Afterwards Prof Pillinger spoke of his frustration at the failed probe, and said there was nothing that should not have worked.
Pioneering scientist Professor Colin Pillinger, who was the driving force behind Britain's Mars lander Beagle 2, suffered a brain haemorrhage at his home in Cambridge.
The professor, who was awarded the CBE in 2003, later died in hospital, a spokesman said.
Planetary scientist Professor Colin Pillinger, who was known for his Beagle 2 Mars mission, has died aged 70.
Computer scientists in Cambridge have created a computer program which could help to predict how the Earth will look hundreds of years in the future.
They've called this prototype the 'Madingley model' - named after the Cambridgeshire village and it can be used to show how humans damaging the Earth's ecosystems would impact on animal life around the world.
Click below to watch a report by ITV News Anglia's Stuart Leithes
Thousands of youngsters in Cambridge have been finding out how they can use science in their everyday lives as part of a drive to get more of them interested in the subject. The annual University of Cambridge Science Festival allows children to take part in a range of activities.
Last weekend alone more than 20,000 people attended events around the City and it's hoped that figure will be beaten this weekend.
A study by the University of East Anglia has found that hungry bumblebees travel more than a mile to find food.Read the full story ›
A Facebook game developed by scientists in Norwich could help in the fight against the tree disease ash dieback.
The deadly fungus was first discovered in the wild in Britain in the Anglia region last year. It's now threatening the UK's 80 million ash trees.
Click below to watch a report from ITV News Anglia's Natalie Gray
Scientists in Norwich working to tackle a disease which is threatening to wipe out millions of ash trees are enlisting the help of online gamers.
A Facebook game has been designed in which players match colour sequences but also provide crucial data which could find trees resistant to the disease.
Scientists from the Norwich Research Park worked with a game company to design Fraxinus. Players match sequences of coloured leaves which also represent strings of genetic information from ash trees with chalara ash dieback.
The tree disease was first identified in Britain last year and is spreading fast.
Scientists say data from the game may be able to help provide information to breed naturally-resistant ash trees.