European Space Agency's webpage about the Mars Express / Beagle 2 project.
December 23, 2003 7:25 PM   Subscribe

Mars ho! In about 24 hours, the Beagle 2 lander will descend to the surface of Mars, courtesy of the European Space Agency. After a few mighty bounces, encased in a giant rubber ball, the lander will open up and allow its instrument payload to start sampling the surface. This is the first in a trifecta of landers destined for Mars during the next month. NASA's landers, Spirit and Opportunity, land on January 3rd and January 24th.
posted by warhol (25 comments total)
This is insanely exciting to me; thank you so much for sharing these links!
posted by headspace at 9:40 PM on December 23, 2003

Alas, the curse of Mars is all too real, as the Japanese recently discovered with their first probe. The Russians and Americans know all too well, with high-profile failures such as Mars Polar Lander. I wish the new trio quartet all the luck they can find.
posted by dhartung at 9:48 PM on December 23, 2003

posted by spazzm at 11:12 PM on December 23, 2003

Did they ask permission?
posted by vbfg at 1:20 AM on December 24, 2003

Fingers crossed. I work on the instrument commanding software for Mars Express so this is an exciting time for us.

posted by salmacis at 2:04 AM on December 24, 2003

Salmacis and all those related to the project: Good luck! Let's hope that the great demon that lurks on Mars will turn its back for Beagle 2 on Christmas Day :)
posted by adrianhon at 2:12 AM on December 24, 2003

I hear the Mars Demon quite likes Blur, so things are looking up.
Mind you, he said the Democrazy thing was a self-indulgent, turd of an idea.

So who knows?
posted by Blue Stone at 3:26 AM on December 24, 2003

"Mars Ho" -- some sort of intergalactic slut?

Kidding, kidding.
posted by davidmsc at 3:26 AM on December 24, 2003

salmacis, adrianhon: do you guys have an updated list with websites to watch? Do you who is offering live coverage? I am trying to update my 2001 list, so any help will be appreciated.

Good luck with the mission!
posted by MzB at 7:34 AM on December 24, 2003

It probably will fail.

The balloons used to cushion the fall were never tested. The original balloons failed testing and they didn't have time to test the replacements.
posted by stbalbach at 8:16 AM on December 24, 2003

MzB: The Beagle 2 weblog and news pages are good sources, as is MarsDaily.
posted by adrianhon at 9:22 AM on December 24, 2003

Welch says a 1967 international treaty holds that everything in the solar system, except Earth itself, is the property of everyone in the world and no one country.

"Just because we land on Mars first doesn't mean the United States owns it," he said.

...till the US govt. abrogates the treaty, that is.
posted by dash_slot- at 10:06 AM on December 24, 2003

Adrianhon: not really. Mars Express + Beagle 2's web presences suck in comparison to Mars Pathfinder's 1997 web coverage. The sites are very 'information poor' and PR-oriented.

I was reading the technology page, for example.. it doesn't even list all the technology or show diagrams of the lander. I was surprised to see on the science page that there was a mass spec on board because it wasn't listed on the tech page.

A photo of the lander is labeled as "most recent photo of the lander". eh? Isn't that usually implied? Might as well label it "We are the PR department, no usable info will be found here"
posted by benh57 at 4:59 PM on December 24, 2003

Who else dreams of great big robots on Mars mining tunnels in the side of mountains, digging cisterns, building buildings, spaceship runways, and?...

Getting that space elevator up and running would be a real help.

However, with a small nuclear generator (the Japanese and South Africans have some great off-the-shelf models), and some VERY durable, multi-purpose robots, you have got a serious resource. Think of them as huge Energizer bunnies, plugging away at whatever task, retiring to heated shelter only when it gets too cold.

If nothing else, they could create pressed-earth bricks with a small amount of liquid sealant and a lot of pressure that would be comparable to baked bricks-thousands of them.

"Everything a robot does a man doesn't have to."
posted by kablam at 5:42 PM on December 24, 2003

First reports indicate that Mars Express (the orbiter) has successfully entered orbit, but the lander has not sent a broadcast signal expected by Mars Odyssey. The mission director says it's not an indicator of failure and the lander may not have initialized by the time of the flyby or landed with a bad antenna position, and they'll continue to listen.
posted by azazello at 10:55 PM on December 24, 2003

Here's the timeline for the next 24 hours or so.
posted by daver at 11:26 PM on December 24, 2003

no signal so far : <
posted by amberglow at 7:02 AM on December 25, 2003

Don't Panic!
posted by stbalbach at 7:30 AM on December 25, 2003

Is that the Issac Asimov look?
posted by kablam at 12:18 PM on December 25, 2003

Perhaps it's the, "We've just pissed away £35m of your money, please don't shoot us," look.
posted by Blue Stone at 1:03 PM on December 25, 2003

Sorry, even without metric system blunders, they failed--better go back to inches and miles!
posted by ParisParamus at 6:29 PM on December 25, 2003

Yeah, so the second attempt to pick up its signal failed. It's pretty certain by now that it didn't land properly.
posted by azazello at 7:26 PM on December 25, 2003

posted by fullerine at 12:57 AM on December 26, 2003

Kuddos to the Blur idea, and further Kuddos to playing of the lunar Eagle with Beagle! (British eagle?) Very cute, even if it didn't work.
posted by ParisParamus at 5:04 AM on December 26, 2003

posted by Mars Saxman at 12:00 PM on December 26, 2003

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