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Still no sign of missing Beagle

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  • Frits Westra
    Still no sign of missing Beagle http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/3366499.stm Beagle 2 s mothership will begin searching for the missing probe in the next
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 4, 2004
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      Still no sign of missing Beagle

      http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/3366499.stm

      Beagle 2's mothership will begin searching for the missing probe in the
      next few days.

      Mission scientists said on Sunday that further attempts to contact the
      British-built lander had failed.

      They are pinning their hopes on the European Space Agency's Mars Express,
      which will be in position to look for its 'baby' on Wednesday.

      The news came as the US space agency Nasa celebrated the safe landing of
      its Spirit rover on the Red Planet.

      It sent back images of the rocky, barren surface of Mars within hours of
      landing.

      In contrast, Beagle touched down on Mars on Christmas Day but never sent
      back a radio signal to say it had survived the landing.

      'Disaster scenario'

      Spirit is larger and more complex than Beagle 2, which weighed only 60 kg
      and cost less than a tenth of the £545m budget for the rover and its twin,
      Opportunity.

      Beagle scientists are now focusing on two main reasons for the lack of
      contact besides the "disaster scenario".

      A software glitch or a problem with the probe's receiver or transmitter
      could explain Beagle's silence as well as the growing possibility that it
      was destroyed on landing.

      Mission manager Dr Mark Sims refuses to put numbers on the prospects of
      finding Beagle alive.

      "I'm not a betting man," he told a news conference in London.

      "We''ll go through the whole process and only when we've ruled out all the
      options will we give up.

      "We will keep going with Mars Express and with Beagle 2 for as long as we
      can."

      "Our intention is that we really, really make a full out attempt on the 7
      [January]," said Colin Pillinger, Beagle 2 lead scientist.

      If nothing is heard from Beagle via Mars Express, the fate of the craft
      may never be known.

      Hi-tech cameras on Mars Express and the Nasa orbiter Mars Global Surveyor
      may be able to spot signs of its parachutes but the chances are slim.

      "If we find a parachute, we'll know that [Beagle] arrived within six
      kilometres of the planet's surface [intact]," Dr Sims told BBC News Online.
      Story from BBC NEWS:
      http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/sci/tech/3366499.stm

      Published: 2004/01/04 09:46:43 GMT

      © BBC MMIV
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