Still no sign of missing Beagle
- Still no sign of missing Beagle
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
In contrast, Beagle touched down on Mars on Christmas Day but never sent
back a radio signal to say it had survived the landing.
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,
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
"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:
Published: 2004/01/04 09:46:43 GMT
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