So, if it's a case the fourth flap didn't open, could Curiosity bumble over and give it a nudge - what kind of distance are we talking here? A six month trek, two year?
The UK’s Beagle 2 mission - the ill-fated Martian probe which went missing in December 2003 - was in some way not a glorious British failure, a British space boffin said today. Being the first European space vehicle to perform a controlled landing on another planet, even though it didn’t deploy fully, means the mission was a …
pedant mode here but:
1) there already are (or have been) four things driving around on Mars: Sojourner, Spirit, Opportunity and Curiosity - though only the last two are still roving around simultaneously.
2) IIRC, Beagle 2 didn't have wheels or any form of movement - it was just designed to land on the surface, do some experiments and report back.
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Don't be silly - of course it can't use a USB stick to download the images as Curiosity won't be returning to earth and Curiosity's arms don't have the ability to self-insert the USB stick.
On the other hand, if there was a friendly Martian to help then a lack of USB could be a huge oversight on Curiosity's part....
According to these links Beagle and Curiosity are about 4km from each other - and Curiosity's max speed is 0.14 KM/h it should take Curiosity just 28hrs at full chat to get there.
Although I'm not convinced the scale on that map is at all right -I think there are a few zeros missing off the scale which may slow Curiosity up a bit.
Olympus Mons is meant to be 600 odd KM wide.
I think you may be reading the land height key as a length measurement - the thing at the bottom is a colour-code for the height above the datum. The distances are implied from the latitude and longitude scales (measured in degrees).
Every 1 degree on the top scale is about 34km, so the distance between the two is around 2,000km.
Beagle was fitted with a groundbreaking new AI program.
After a recent alien abduction and 'probing', in payment, said bug-eyed green spindly being gave me a pat on the head, a mars bar and a USB stick with a copy of the Beagle file "/output.log", which goes as follows:
(timestamps omitted because I can't be arsed to make them up)
"Oh a bit fast..."
"Oh I'm still here. Good. What's to see?"
"It's... It's... They'll never believe me. I can't send a photo of that."
"Why are you doing that. Stop it. You'll brea..."
Is 'Space Research Centre, University of Leicester' the name of a retirement home for confused academics?
The Mars Express Orbiter has been outstanding, but the probe failed. The probe did not send any data regarding surface layers of Mars. No geology, no geochemistry. Nada. Zilch.
Finding out 11 years down the line that the probe landed roughly where it was expected too does not turn failure into success.
Saying the whole thing is a success probably is overstating it. But, i think the point theyre trying to make is that it achieved a significant amount of its objectives (successful design, build, launch, travel, deploy to specific area etc all with a very (relatively) small budget). Therefore there are many aspects that can now objectively be considered successful, despite one significant failure in the landing itself.
"The Mars Express Orbiter has been outstanding, but the probe failed. The probe did not send any data regarding surface layers of Mars. No geology, no geochemistry. Nada. Zilch.
Finding out 11 years down the line that the probe landed roughly where it was expected too does not turn failure into success."
@ Moultoneer - You Sir have no soul or spirit of exploration!
No, granted, the probe has not sent back any info, but the damn thing got where it was going and seemingly in one piece. However you slice this, this is something to celebrate. No one is saying it was an unqualified success, but aspects of the mission were definitely a success.
Here's to the Prof... now where's our next one? Only the UK can create a Pillinger and we need more!
Someone I know who was closely involved in Gulf War 1 (the GB1 war) claimed that when the war started the definition of "interception" by a Patriot missile was that the thing exploded within range of a Scud. Unfortunately the things weren't working, but the solution was simple; by the end of the war "interception" simply meant the Patriot launched before the Scud warhead exploded.
Still, a lot of people were led to believe that bits of Patriot raining down were actually bits of Scud. The propaganda effect was successful.
Patriot Missiles: A cautionary tale of getting your floating point act together!
Yes, that's for YOU, young whippersnappers!
Interesting read there Destroy all Monstors. I don't know if the scud part is accurate, but the Ariane part missed a couple of points.
The code was written for the Ariane 4, and in this rocket, the maximum value before conversion from 64 bits to 16 bits could never exceed the bounds of a 16 bit value. The problem was that on Ariane 5, it could. The bug was never spotted, because the result of the calculation wasn't even needed in Ariane 5; so code wasn't fully checked in the initial integration. However in flight, it caused an exception, so the computer shut down and the redundant side took over; which then suffered from the same failure...
One of the compounds I work at have still have some of the original hardware, and the amazing thing is that some of it still works, even after going through all that!
Re. the Ariane example, I well remember being asked why I had recoded a "simple" fixed point division in a 16/32 bit system with so much complexity. The original programmer had allowed for division by zero but had not allowed for the actual range of output from one of the sensors, so that a large deflection of as gyro resulted in the correcting force being applied in the wrong direction. The test fixture had the dent in an inch thick steel plate (designed to prevent overtravel) to prove it. The worst damage was that when it hit every single power transistor in the servo amplifier blew its gate.
"Someone I know who was closely involved in Gulf War 1....." Oh, you've been reading Slate again? (http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/war_stories/2003/03/patriot_games.html) Trust you to drag a completely unrelated bit of political posturing into a scientific thread.
The warhead on a Patriot wasn't big enough to vaporise every bit of a Scud, the best it could do was hope to cause enough damage that the Scud would break up or be deflected. In military terms, you would use a ballistic missile with a conventional warhead against a high-value point target (an headquarters for example), so deflecting a Scud would be a success. But in the Gulf War the Scuds were being used against civilian area targets, so a deflection or break-up did not necessarily stop bits of the Scud falling on people and killing them (http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/MIM-104_Patriot#Persian_Gulf_War_.281991.29). That is why the US definition of a successful interception was a Patriot exploding within lethal range of a Scud - Patriot missiles had proximity fuses and weren't designed to actually hit the target (despite that, some critics tried to claim Patriot "never hit a Scud" - well, duh! http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/MIM-104_Patriot#Success_rate_vs._accuracy). It didn't help the statisticians that Patriots were usually fired three or four at once against a single Scud - if the Scud was deflected or broke up it was a single "interception" but meant critics claimed only a 25% or 33% "success rate per missile".
Israel saw the problem as civilian area defence, so Scuds being deflected or broken up over Isreali cities was still a failure to them. That's why they looked at forward interception with Iron Dome, the idea being to deflect or break up an incoming missile before it can get over an Israeli population center.
".....The propaganda effect was successful." You seem to be the one suffering from an effectiveness of propaganda. The Wikipedia link above comments on the Scud casings being found to be riddled with shrapnel from Patriot warheads, evidence of successful interceptions.
Now, do you have anything to actually say about BEAGLE 2?
Thanks for the feedback but I am not buying into this plucky failure meme.
Credit for reaching Mars goes to the Mars Express mission, which successfully delivered Beagle 2 to Mars and then handed over to the Orbiter which has been a huge success (mapping Mars anyone?).
Which elements of the Beagle 2 mission can be described as a success?
And please don't write 'Reaching Mars' because that was the Express mission.
@Moultoneer – totally with you on this: £50 million down the toilet. Though there were some interesting aspects to the project, it was, as is so much British scientific research, dramatically underfunded and the crash was an unqualified failure.
Next time: spend twice as much on it; make two; add redundancy and test, test, test.
Have we learned anything about why the probe failed that might prevent such a failure in future? If we have then the probe's mission is a partial success. If we have not then the probe's mission is a failure.*
Mars Express orbiter is indeed an undisputed success.
*Edit: I think this post might answer my own question in the negative.
Did they consider the idea that it did hit hard ( as they suspected ), some of the panels flew open, and the bright spot just North of Beagle 2 is a panel that broke off ?
Anyone who likes the idea of Curiosity driving over to it needs to read this bloody excellent book:
I always liked Mr.Pillinger, always thought he was an honest type of guy. I always felt for him after this, some people weren't too kind about Beagle 2 - often citing the fact he was northern as somehow the cause for the failed mission.
But he has had the last laugh, it's just a shame that he isn't around to witness it.
Have one on me Mr.Pillinger, wherever you are.
reminds me of when I took my Electricity and Electronics A/O level, in an (after school) class of 6. Mine was the only project that didn't work (an op-amp blew, and I had used up the spares). However, I was also the only pupil to get an "A". When my (understandably peeved) classmates grumbled, the teacher pointed out that if they had read the marking guide (as I had) they would have noticed that nowhere were there marks for "does it work". There were marks for "has the pupil shown an understanding of any problems they encountered". Which meant a full write-up trumped "working" :).
Anyway, I'm happy to call Beagle2 a success. For gods sake, it got to MARS !
For gods sake, it got to MARS !
The hard work of getting there was down by ESA. "All" Beagle had to do was land safely. It had been pointed out that it was underspecc'd to do this and so the ignominious and untraceable crash was no real surprise. The probe didn't even have a black box to provide a signal for any of the orbiting satellites to indicate where it landed.
It's a partial triumph, tempered by a partial failure. They're right to celebrate the parts that worked.
The mission failed, but not totally. That little thing is sitting right where it was supposed to be, mostly intact, and that's an awesome achievement. Many systems and methods were validated knowing that Beagle made it, even if it broke on landing and couldn't do it's ground work. A TOTAL failure would have missed the planet or smashed itself to bits too small to see.
Science lets one learn from mistakes, they're sometimes more informative then when everything went according to plan. Too many of you seem to think that nothing short of total success makes a project worth it. Always better to do an Opportunity, but space is a harsh environment. Given how often our CARS need repair even without the cold and radiation, give the space probes a break!
and a posthumous pint to the Prof.
It would be wonderful if one of the orbiters could send a signal to give the thing a nudge or get some data from a low gain antenna (or summit like that) but that's more Hollywood than science probably.
So there you have it. We just wait for Hollywood to adopt it as one of their own and it will be found to be working after all.
And just in time for the hols.
And to save the world.
And to have a pretty astranautess on board (with large mammary glands too.)
Sure i saw this at the start of one of the films that i have now removed from memory..
Wonder if we could shove Cameron and Osbourne into Beagle 3 and send them instead....
Would remind me of the statue scene at the end of Spaceballs. when they land on planet of the apes.
To the people claiming this mission was a total failure I say this: build a vehicle that can successfully get a delicate piece of scientific equipment from the ground into space and then come back to me as say this was a total failure. I think a lot of people dramatically underestimate how hard it is to get into space let alone all the way to Mars and then land on the surface. Even hitting Mars is quite an achievement in my book.
I was reading something the other day that said Mars is actually quite hard to get down onto for a variety of reasons. The orbits of Earth and Mars reduce the windows in which you can fly and mean you end up with a very fast approach. Then, because Mars has a thin atmosphere, it's difficult to shed an extra speed in landing so you have to carry a stack of extra fuel to slow down but the exact burn length is difficult to judge. And if that wasn't enough the thin atmosphere means that any decent sized probe can't land using only parachutes (about 1/2 ton was the limit IIRC) so you need air bags to more thrusters.
The Mars Express delivered Beagle2 to Mars, no one is doubting the success of that mission or the decade long success of the Mars Orbiter.
Beagle2 had to land on Mars, complete its scientific tasks and send back its data. If these four pixels are correctly identified then it did land (though how heavily/ controlled we do not know) and we do not know if it completed any atmospheric or surface level readings.
The only thing that we know for certain is that it failed to return any data. As such the Beagle2 element of the ESA mission to Mars was a failure.
Having worked on Cassini Huygens, which I presume from the comments by the Beagle team must have been an uncontrolled European spacecraft landing, I find it strange that the radio transmitter was under four solar panels that had to be correctly deployed in order before radio transmission/reception was possible.
We were always concerned about single point failures and despite the compactness of Beagle's design having 4 single point failures before the radio is operational seems unthinkable.
For me the most memorable thing about Beagle 2 was that it gave a whole new meaning to the phrase 'sending out for a Chinese'. Seriously. When it arrived at Mars obviously Beagle would start drilling. But where exactly would they get a drill ? They looked in the Yellow Pages and found this Chinese bloke who was great with DENTAL drills. Whatever he cobbled together was fitted onto Beagle.
Make it up ? Not even Monty Python could have.
A recent Sky at Night program showed that the aerial for receiving & transmitting data was underneath the 4 solar panels that opened up, once it had landed. The image of Beagle2 on Mars seems to show that only 2 opened correctly....so 2 other panels didn't open and hence the aerial remained hidden, and it couldn't contact it's makers. One would guess that in future, the aerials won't be hidden out of sight :)
Why is everyone working themselves into a tizz about Mars? We haven’t even established a base on the Moon yet. I’m assuming we are talking about sending exploratory spacecraft to Mars with the distant vision of establishing a human presence on Mars AFTER we establish a Moon-base?
My analogy - centuries ago the Europeans were expanding their trade and military empires’ by sailing further and further away from home. The process was to establish a ‘foothold’ port/base, then strengthen that, and then set off from there to go further out and establish another port/base and so on. That’s how the British could establish and run Australia (for example) from the other side of the world; they had a chain sequence of replenishment and communication port/bases to set off from – one logical, sensible step at a time.
So let’s get a Moon-base happening first, much like the International Space Station (ISS) now; conduct experiments; develop research; observe Mars and the rest of the cosmos from the Moon; launch exploratory spacecraft to Mars from the Moon’s surface; build the Moon-base up with its own community of scientists and space engineers, much like the Antarctic bases and International Space Station (ISS).
But isn’t there water on Mars? I don’t really think that ‘water on Mars’ is a valid excuse to go to Mars first before taking the natural step of establishing a Moon-base. I mean, according to NASA, we’ve transported astronauts there 6 times before, over 40 years ago – so it’s a no-brainer. It takes almost a year to get to Mars, whereas (according to NASA) it only 3 days to get to the Moon. Mars has a lot of flood and river channels suggesting that a long time ago liquid water flowed on Mars during a time when Mars was a warm and wet planet with a thicker atmosphere. There is recent evidence that there may also be liquid water at or near the surface on Mars in some places, but this has yet to be proven.
Water on the Moon? The Moon, in fact, has water in all sorts of places; not just locked up in minerals, but scattered throughout the broken-up surface, and, potentially, in blocks or sheets of ice at depth." The results from the Chandrayaan mission are also "offering a wide array of watery signals."
There is one thing that space-enthusiasts don’t talk about which is a major ‘barrier’ to manned space flight – in a word RADIATION. Astronauts, scientists and space engineers would never survive the radiation exposure from earth’s Van Allen radiation belts and then, once they are past that, the intense radiation from the sun – the radiation levels are way too high and they can penetrate every know substance known to humans.
Radiation from space takes the form of subatomic particles from the sun. These high-speed particles tear through DNA molecules, splitting them or damaging the instructions they have encoded for cell reproduction. The damaged DNA can lead to cancers or other diseases. Radiation exposure would be extreme and chronic microwaving current space travellers and pioneers.
So logically, all the money NASA and the rest of the space / scientific world intend to spend on proposed missions to the Moon or Mars, should be put into developing a system, alloy or synthetic material (similar to Demron) that can effectively shield high-Rad radiation from the Earth’s Van Allen radiation belts and subatomic particles from the sun. Once this has been achieved, then genuine, credible manned space flight will be possible, but probably not in our lifetime. We can always go to the movies…
".....Radiation from space takes the form of subatomic particles from the sun...." 'Scuse my ignorance but - apart from neutrally-charged particles such as neutrons - couldn't the majority of charged sub-atomic particles be deflected by a simple electromagnetic field rather than lots of hefty shielding?
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