Ongoing History of New Music

Ongoing History: Blur’s Beagle II Mars probe

On December 19, 2003, the Beagle 2 Mars lander, a probe sent out by the European Space Agency, detached from its mothership for a decent down to the surface. If all went well, it was supposed to radio back that everything was fine when it touched down on Christmas Day.

Then…nothing. Radio silence.

This was a huge disappointment to Blur because the “I’m okay” signal from Beagle was supposed to be a specially-commissioned instrumental piece by the band. Bass player Alex James was especially crushed because as the band’s space nut, he had worked very hard to get the project funded in the first place. 

Many years later, though, high-res photos taken by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter showed a shiny object of about the right size in exactly the right spot for Beagle 2. Speculation is that the probe landed intact but its solar panels and/or radio antennae didn’t deploy properly. It probably played Blur’s song over and over again, but because of the mechanical issues, no one heard it.


Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38573 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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