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TOPIC: Beagle 2 Mars probe


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RE: Beagle 2 Mars probe
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"There is a lot of disturbance in this crater, particularly a big patch on the north crater wall which we think is the primary impact site. There are then other features around the crater consistent with the airbags bouncing around and finally falling down into the middle. Then, when you cut the lace, the airbags fall apart giving three very symmetrical triangles" - Colin Pillinger

Four roughly circular features to the right of the 'airbag' markings could be Beagle's unfolded solar panels.
The findings, if correct, showed the project came very close to working but had failed because it had landed in a "sideways motion" instead of a "horizontal mode."

"That may have damaged the lander so the lid didn't open properly and didn't release the antennae, so we couldn't get the signal" - Colin Pillinger.

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The landing site is centred near 11°N, 270°W, in eastern Isidis Planitia.
Isidis Planitia is a relatively flat plain that covers the floor of an extremely ancient, large basin formed by an asteroid or comet impact 4 billion years ago. The floor of this basin exhibits chains of pitted ridges, numerous smaller meteor impact craters, and a variety of light-toned ripples and small dunes.

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Beagle2
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RE: Beagle 2 Mars probe
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The £45m lander was scheduled to put down in a near-equatorial region of the planet known as Isidis Planitia. But despite many attempts to locate it - using overflying spacecraft and Earth-based telescopes - no sign of it, not even any wreckage, has been detected.



Three dark triangular features in the centre could be airbags

http://www.beagle2.com

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Beagle 2 Found
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Scientists think they have finally found the wreckage of the Beagle 2 Mars probe, almost two years after it crashed on landing.

A sophisticated analysis of grainy images from the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft has convinced the Beagle 2 team that the lander met its end in a small crater, into which it touched down in the early hours of Christmas Day 2003 with little chance of survival.
The pictures which have been pored over by an expert who once interpreted spy satellite images for the RAF, show an impact point in the crater and several objects that appear to be Beagle 2’s protective gas bags and, perhaps, the lander itself.
They suggest that the probe was lost because of cruel luck as it touched down in one of the worst possible places for a soft and successful landing. Rather than dropping to the surface on a flat plain, it appears to have first struck the downslope of a small crater about 18.5m in diameter, before crashing into its opposite wall, bouncing several times around the rim and eventually coming to rest at the bottom.
Even if the gas bags that were meant to cushion its impact were fully inflated, and there is some evidence that they were not, their design would not have allowed them to protect the probe properly under these unlikely circumstances.

"It’s a bit like hitting the side of the pocket in snooker. The plan was for it to bounce along a flat surface, but instead it seems to have hit the wall of the crater and that messed up the bounce sequence, damaging the lander. If this is all true we were very unlucky. A sideswipe like this was just what we didn’t want" - Professor Colin Pillinger, of the Open University, who led the mission.

The fate of Beagle 2 has been pieced together from two images taken in February and April last year, each of which showed anomalous dark patches inside a small crater inside the ellipse where the probe is known to have landed.
Guy Rennie, of Virtual Analytics, has analysed the pictures to make sense of the grainy blotches. One dark patch stands out exceptionally clearly, and almost certainly shows the disturbance of Beagle 2 ’s first bounce to the ground.
The evidence points firmly towards the crater as Beagle 2’s final resting place.

"There are objects in the crater, and there are not numerous craters all with objects inside them. These are features that are very, very unusual and are not seen anywhere else. When you add to that the features that look like bags and a lander, then it’s very, very compelling evidence. If we’re right, this was terrible luck." - Guy Rennie.

The £50 million probe was carried to Mars by the European Space Agency’s Mars Express orbiter, and was last seen two years ago yesterday. After it landed, no radio signal was received and it was given up.

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Beagle 2 Mars probe
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The ill-fated Beagle 2 Mars probe should never have been given the go-ahead, says a powerful MPs' committee.
The much-hyped probe was "doomed from the start", the public accounts committee said while criticising the management of civil space activities.
The projects, in partnerships with the government, were "expensive, uncertain, and over-ambitious", it said.
The UK government spent £188m on civil space activities in 2003/04.
The Beagle 2 mission cost an estimated £50m.
"It is public money and we are spending a lot of money on this (space activities)[/i)" - Edward Leigh, committee chairman at time of report

The much-trumpeted Beagle 2 probe was supposed to have landed on Mars to look for signs of life on the Red Planet, but nothing was heard from the probe after it was ejected from its mothership, the Mars Express orbiter.
The failure of the mission was a huge blow to Britain's space community and the European Space Agency (Esa).
In a report on Thursday, the committee said poor risk management left the project with "no real prospect of success".
"The project suffered from an over-ambitious time schedule, punishing weight constraints, poor management and uncertain funding" .
Speaking on BBC Radio Five Live Breakfast, Edward Leigh, who chaired the committee when it carried out the inquiry, said: "You probably think we're just boring bean counters but it is public money and we are spending a lot of money on this and frankly the Beagle 2 project failed because, as we said, there was an over-ambitious time-table, there were last-minute technical changes, there was uncertain funding, there was poor risk management….Of course it's an ambitious project, of course it's a good project but it's got to be run properly on behalf of the taxpayer."
"The research involved was to answer a question that has puzzled people for thousands of years"
- Prof Colin Pillinger, Beagle 2 project creator .

The government's space activities are carried out by a partnership of 10 government departments, agencies and research councils.
"The British National Space Centre and the Department (of Trade and Industry) should only proceed with such ambitious projects if sufficient resources can be committed from the outset to give a reasonable prospect of success, making due allowance for risk".
But Open University planetary scientist Professor Colin Pillinger, who first proposed the Beagle 2 project, defended the right to take risks.
He told Five Live: "You do not inspire anybody if it is a forgone conclusion and we are in the business of doing research. The research involved was to answer a question that has puzzled people for thousands of years."
In its report on the activities, the Public Accounts Committee acknowledged space projects were expensive and uncertain, saying some, such as Beagle 2, had failed and others had been delayed.
But it said the partnership had to improve its risk management, and the agencies involved should put in sufficient funding at the outset of a project to identify and mitigate technical and construction risks.
They should also address the risks posed by collaborating with other bodies such as Esa and the US space agency (Nasa), and they should deal with risks explicitly in appraising project funding.
The committee also called on the partnership to look again at the costs of the Galileo project - the European satellite-navigation system.
The partnership has estimated the UK would benefit by £6bn from the project, with an outlay of £78m.
But the committee backed the findings of a previous report which queried the cost and benefits analysis.
It also questioned the procurement system used by Esa. The cost of space programmes are increased by the system which means contracts are not always awarded to the most cost-effective bidder, the committee said.

(Source BBC)

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