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View Full Version : ESA publishes Beagle post mortem.



JohnD
2005-Feb-03, 09:13 PM
All,
The British National Space Centre has persuaded ESA to publish their Commission of Enquiry into Beagle2. You'll find it at http://www.bnsc.gov.uk/assets/channels/resources/press/report.pdf

The 'Recommendations' were published before, but until now ESA wanted the whole body of the Report to remain confidential. Well done BNSC!

I haven't read it all yet, so I'll reserve judgement, except to say that some of the Recommendations read as if ESA were wild with jealosy over the high profile achieved by Beagle2.

John

synthomus
2005-Feb-03, 09:30 PM
All,
The British National Space Centre has persuaded ESA to publish their Commission of Enquiry into Beagle2. You'll find it at http://www.bnsc.gov.uk/assets/channels/resources/press/report.pdf

John

[-X Martian quarantine laws infringement!
Severe case of getting toSeeked (http://www.badastronomy.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?t=19421).

Jigsaw
2005-Feb-03, 10:59 PM
Yeah, but Sticks doesn't have a link to the actual report itself, which John does. ;)

Good puppy! Bicky! Jump! :D

**********

That has to be one of the most heart-breaking documents I've ever read. :(

No recriminations, no finger-pointing, just the grim recital of facts: not enough funding, not enough testing, no clear communication channels, the loss of a major tech partner halfway through, not enough time or respect given to the project, and over it all the looming presence of people who were so gung-ho for the project, so anxious for the glory of a Mars Landing, that they apparently ignored any number of danger signs that cooler heads--and more experienced hands--would have recognized.

Note: It's a 42 page PDF document, but the Executive Summary has all you need to know--pages 3 through 5.

frogesque
2005-Feb-04, 12:44 AM
:( A terrible wasted chance. I hope the lessons are taken to heart.

Matt McIrvin
2005-Feb-04, 03:37 AM
Recommendation 11 seems particularly important to me: There has to be engineering telemetry through entry, descent and landing, to the maximum degree possible. Since there wasn't, nobody knows exactly what went wrong, and it's difficult to extract any technical lessons from the failure to be applied to future missions.

Matt McIrvin
2005-Feb-04, 03:40 AM
Recommendation 11 seems particularly important to me: There has to be engineering telemetry through entry, descent and landing, to the maximum degree possible. Since there wasn't, nobody knows exactly what went wrong, and it's difficult to extract any technical lessons from the failure to be applied to future missions.

...That, by the way, was also a big problem with Mars Polar Lander. There are well-supported conjectures by now as to what its problem was, but nobody really knows for sure, which is worrying with regard to the Phoenix project, which I think is in some ways a Mars Polar Lander re-do.

Matt McIrvin
2005-Feb-04, 03:47 AM
...That, by the way, was also a big problem with Mars Polar Lander. There are well-supported conjectures by now as to what its problem was, but nobody really knows for sure, which is worrying with regard to the Phoenix project, which I think is in some ways a Mars Polar Lander re-do.

Hmm, looking at their Web site, it's more accurate to call it a re-do of the cancelled Mars Surveyor 2001 lander, with some instruments cribbed from MPL and a polar mission. Still, I think everyone would have been happier with more telemetry from MPL.

JohnD
2005-Feb-04, 08:23 PM
All,
I heard Pillinger speak about Beagle2 last week, and he would be the first to agree about telemetry for the descent. He would also like to have had other advantages that Huyghens had, of release from a known stable orbit, instead of several days out from planetary orbit and of tracking by multiple radiotelescopes. And decent funding, adequate time for development and testing, and full-hearted support from the parent space organisation. (The latter being my view, not his, either voiced or implied)

On telemetry, this has to be a trade off, unless the engineering telemetry can be re-used for science after landing. More telemetry, less science. Beagle2 achieved what is probably the highest ratio of science to support systems of any probe, 11.4kgs in a 33.2kg lander from a probe massing 68.84kgs. Okay, maybe that pushed the limits too far.

But of 34 previous Mars missions, fly-bys, orbiters and landers, only 9 succeded. No doubt the other 25 were subject to similar enquiries, but in the same spirit of denigration?

I HATE the image of Great British Failures, but I have to admit, this was one of them. However, no blame to the Beagle2 team, rather to ESA and the British Government.
John