Lost Mars Probe Found Lost Mars Probe Found

By our man with his eye on Uranus,
Ray Grant

Two years ago, British scientists lost contact with the Beagle 2 Mars probe shortly after its launch. But yesterday, with the help of a young American astronomy buff, the craft was finally found...on the Earth's moon

"I don't know what to say," Peter Noble, lead scientist on the failed mission told utterpants over a swift half in the appropriately named 'Half Moon' public house. "It must have been a matter of miscommunication between myself and the navigational programmers. Mars—Moon. Moon—Mars. They sound very much alike, particularly after six pints of Old Fart draught bitter. Also, one can't rule out the possibility of wind," added the astronomer, shifting his considerable bulk with an embarrassed laugh.
"Wind?" we asked.
"Sorry, I meant the solar wind. Contrary blighter, never know where or when it will blow. Bit like this beer really; bit gassy today I'm afraid."

Professor Noble went on to explain that the scientific team had long given up hope of locating the probe on the Martian surface. "We continued to come into work," he said wistfully, "but we were taking longer and longer lunches, and many of us were calling in sick on Fridays."

Then Noble received word that fourteen-year-old Ted Milton had spotted something through his telescope. "I was looking at heavenly bodies like I do most evenings," Milton told Utterpants, "when Mrs Bell put out her light and—"
"—Mrs Bell?" we interrupted.
"Er...the...um...pretty lady who lives in the apartment building across the street," said the cheeky adolescent with a sheepish grin.
"About to launch your own probe were you?"
"Er...not exactly, no," he giggled. I didn't have time before she put out the light. You could say my loss was Professor Noble's gain."
"How's that?"
"Well, when she drew the curtains I got bored and turned the telescope on the moon. It was then I saw what I hoped was a flying saucer sticking out of the side of a crater. Turns out it was just some dumb probe."

"Why a flying saucer?" we asked.
"Well...I've been kind of hoping I might get abducted ever since I read on the Internet about what happens to young girls who sleep with the windows open."
"And have you?"
Although the Beagle 2 was too damaged to transmit data back to earth, Noble was glad to finally learn what became of the craft. "We're very grateful to the young wanker. Who knows? Perhaps he'll become a scientist some day."

Less than two hours after being interviewed for this story, Ted Milton was pulled from a neighbour's bush and is currently being held on charges of gross indecency and the theft of a 'Rabbit' vibrator and underwear belonging to a Mrs S Bell.

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Story © 2006 Ray Grant. Picture, design and construction © 2006 utterpants.co.uk / 030106

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