Planetary scientist Professor Colin Pillinger dies aged 70

Professor Colin Pillinger, the planetary scientist best known for Britain's Beagle 2 Mars mission, has died aged 70. He suffered a brain haemorrhage at his home in Cambridge and later died in hospital.

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Pillinger was everyone's favourite eccentric scientist

As the face and driving force behind British attempts to explore Mars, Professor Colin Pillinger became everyone's favourite eccentric British scientist. Today, on news of his death, at the age of 70, his successes and even his heroic failures were remembered and celebrated.

His friend, and ITV News Science Editor, Lawrence McGinty, reports on the man with the stand-out side burns and burning enthusiasm for space:

Family: Pillinger death 'devastating and unbelievable'

The family of planetary scientist Professor Colin Pillinger told the BBC his death was "devastating and unbelievable".

Planetary scientist Professor Colin Pillinger died today aged 70. Credit: Johnny Green/PA Wire

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.

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Prof Pillinger best known for ill-fated Mars mission

Planetary scientist Professor Colin Pillinger, who died today aged 70, was most famous for the ill-fated Beagle 2 mission to Mars.

Professor Colin Pillinger with the Beagle 2 landing craft in 2002. Credit: Tim Ockenden/PA Archive

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.

Professor Colin Pillinger suffered brain haemorrhage

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.

Pioneering scientist Professor Colin Pillinger. Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA Archive

The professor, who was awarded the CBE in 2003, later died in hospital, a spokesman said.

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