Where is Beagle 2?
Hello… is there anybody in there? – Pink Floyd: The Wall
Ejected from Mars Express on December 19th, 2003 Beagle 2 was set to land on Mars on Christmas Day 2003. It was to deploy its solar arrays and power up in order to send a signal through Mars Odyssey to indicate that all systems were nominal.
No signal was received. Mars Odyssey
made several more attempts to contact the rover as parent ship Mars Express
moved into position.
What might have gone wrong.
- A crash landing could have occurred if Beagle 2 failed to deploy its airbags, jettison its heat shield or deploy its parachutes. Scientists are highly doubtful that this occurred – although there is no direct evidence to the contrary.
- An internal clock mistiming would prevent Beagle from “talking” at the proper time – thus Mars Odyssey would not be able to pick up the signal. This theory was disproved when Mars Odyssey sent a signal to the rover with a command to reset the internal clock.
- A detailed picture of Beagle’s landing site showed a half-mile wide crater. Scientists believe that the walls may be blocking the signal, or that Beagle 2 tumbled into it.
- Because Mars Odyssey was having difficulty talking to the lander – scientists theorized that the problem may be that Mars Odyssey was not designed to communicate with Beagle 2. This theory was disproved when the sensitive 76-meter-diameter Lovell Telescope at the University of Manchester's Jodrell Bank Observatory also failed to find a signal.
- If Beagle 2 did land safely it would need to almost immediately open itself up in order to collect power. If it failed to do so, it would quickly run out of battery power in the cold Martian night.
On January 7, 2004 Mars Express
settled into its low 315 km orbit
and started to look for Beagle 2. No trace of the lander was found. The most favorable conditions will occur January 13, 2004
and January 17, 2004
. If Mars Express is not heard from at this time then the ground-based part of the mission will be lost.