Feeds

NASA eyeballs lost Beagle 2

Evidence of crash landing

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Brit boffin Colin Pillinger - the man behind the failed Beagle 2 mission to Mars - says NASA may have discovered the remains of the vehicle in a crater in which it appears to have crashed, Reuters reports.

The ill-fated Beagle 2 was due to bounce-down on the Red Planet on Xmas Day 2003, safely cushioned within a ball of airbags. However, after it separated from the mother ship, nothing more was heard. Now, NASA's Mars Global Surveyor has offered possible evidence of the fate of the £50m mission.

Pillinger explained to the BBC: "There is a lot of disturbance in this crater, particularly a big patch on the north crater wall which we think is the primary impact site.

"There are then other features around the crater consistent with the airbags bouncing around and finally falling down into the middle. Then, when you cut the lace, the airbags fall apart giving three very symmetrical triangles."

Pillinger added that "four roughly circular features to the right of the 'airbag' markings could be Beagle's unfolded solar panels".

The upshot of the evidence is that Beagle hit Mars too hard, and with a sideways motion rather than the planned vertical descent. Pillinger noted: "That may have damaged the lander so the lid didn't open properly and didn't release the antennae, so we couldn't get the signal."

The failure of Beagle 2 caused much recrimination and finger-pointing back in late 2003 and 2004. In November 2004, a House of Commons Select Committee for Science and Technology report concluded that the mission crashed and burned due to lack of proper funding. It said that "while the government was 'admirably enthusiastic' about the project, is was 'unable to respond to its relatively sudden emergence' with guaranteed sponsorship. As a consequence, the scientists had to spend time fundraising, rather than on designing and testing equipment." ®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
GRAV WAVE DRAMA: 'Big Bang echo' may have been grit on the scanner – boffins
Exit Planet Dust on faster-than-light expansion of universe
Mine Bitcoins with PENCIL and PAPER
Forget Sudoku, crunch SHA-256 algos
SpaceX Dragon cargo truck flies 3D printer to ISS: Clawdown in 3, 2...
Craft berths at space station with supplies, experiments, toys
NASA rover Curiosity drills HOLE in MARS 'GOLF COURSE'
Joins 'traffic light' and perfect stony sphere on the Red Planet
'This BITE MARK is a SMOKING GUN': Boffins probe ancient assault
Tooth embedded in thigh bone may tell who pulled the trigger
DOLPHINS SMELL MAGNETS – did we hear that right, boffins?
Xavier's School for Gifted Magnetotaceans
Big dinosaur wowed females with its ENORMOUS HOOTER
That's right, Doris, I've got biggest snout in the prehistoric world
Japanese volcano eruption reportedly leaves 31 people presumed dead
Hopes fade of finding survivors on Mount Ontake
That glass of water you just drank? It was OLDER than the SUN
One MEELLION years older. Some of it anyway
prev story

Whitepapers

A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.