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Fraser
2003-Jul-09, 05:37 PM
SUMMARY: The European Space Agency has been testing all aspects of the Mars Express spacecraft to ensure that it's ready for its encounter with Mars. This week they put the UK-built Beagle 2 lander through its paces. The tests included uploading software and turning various instruments on and off, and everything seems to be working properly. A final series of tests will be done in mid-July. Mars Express is expected to reach the Red Planet on December 19 - Beagle 2 will land on the surface on December 25.


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Gerald Hooper
2003-Jul-09, 08:39 PM
I would like to know how the site for the Beagle 2 landing was selected and within what range of the landing site that the Beagle 2 can search? In terms of probability what is the percentage area of Mars that is covered by the Beagle 2 tests?
Thank You
Gerry Hooper
ghphpr@ntlworld.com :D

Fraser
2003-Jul-09, 09:36 PM
Beagle 2's going to be landing at a spot called Isidis Planitia which is at a boundary between the highlands and the northern plains.

It was chosen for a few reasons
- it's in a warmer area, so Beagle 2 can operate when it arrives in the Martian Spring
- it has interesting rocks, but not too many to risk the landing
- it's a low elevation to give the parachutes time to slow the lander's descent
- it doesn't seem to be too dusty

Guest
2003-Jul-10, 05:25 AM
Is beagle 2 mission simply for collecting rocks ? Are they checking on anything else ?

Viven

Paul Henney
2003-Jul-10, 07:35 PM
:) Beagle 2 is really a sophisticated chemical lab.

One of its primary goals is to see if there is any methane on Mars..a sure sign of biological activity.
It has a small mass spectrometer aboard which will literally count atoms to find out the origin of the materials it samples. The samples are fed into the MS by a small sampling device called the "mole" which will retrieve soil and rock chips from around the lander.

It also has a set of cameras which should supply some stunning views of the surface.

Not bad for 68kg and a mere $40 million :-)

pj

philip slater
2003-Jul-11, 09:50 PM
The range of the landing site that Beagle 2 can search by touch is just as far as its extendable arm, or paw, and its dentist's drill can reach, assuming that the lander bounces down all right. This area of contact is, in proportion to the surface area of Mars, aproximately 100,000th of the ratio of a needle to a haystack, give or take a few noughts.

Curiously enough, these odds are much the same as those pertaining against any bit of British-made kit setting out to cross from Earth's orbit to that of Mars in any of our lifetimes, had it not been for one bloke, Colin Pillinger, whose individual achievement in making this mission happen is outstanding.

He would give the credit to his talented team at the Open University at Milton Keynes and all the other organisations that have pitched in to help get Beagle2 spacebourne. But they'd all agree that without him there would have been no Mars lander hitch hiking into the galaxy on a Russian rocket and the ESA Mars Express orbiter.

Britain, for a number of dreary historical political reasons, doesn't have a governmental space agency, which provides a great incentive to build up the ISS, or Independent Space Sector, in which of course Universe Today is already involved in no small measure.

It is really good news that Universe Today is now openly interactive and open to all sorts of inputs and exchanges of information.

Let's hope everyone interested gets seriously stuck in to contributing to discussions, sorting out some new ideas and helping the best ones reach reality.

Philip Slater
Project Co-ordinator
UK National Independent Space Agency
philipslater@uk-nisa.com

Fraser
2003-Jul-11, 10:12 PM
Hey, I've always been open, I've just been greedy and kept all the responses to myself. I'm ready to share now. :-)

philip slater
2003-Jul-12, 09:06 PM
Open is good. :-) Maybe sometimes "greedy" is good too. :-) It certainly is if it helps people to keep things to themselves until it is time to drop those things into the public domain, like when something is being patented or a dramatic launch by the marketing department is being dreamt up or somesuch.

Actually, open is very, very, good. If you can develop UT discussions to get some of the really great advantages of open access whilst minimising or dispensing with the downside, and then persuade some of the leading space agencies across the planet to learn from your experience, you could cut thirty years off the time it takes for humans to get the hang of voyaging around the solar system and doing it all a bit sooner and a bit better.

More about the amazing saga of the genesis of Beagle 2 can be found at http://www.beagle2.com

Philip Slater
UK-NISA