Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Separation Day Arrives for Mars Express and Beagle 2

19.12.2003


After a joint journey of 250 million miles (400 million km), the British-built Beagle 2 spacecraft and the European Space Agency’s Mars Express orbiter should now have parted and gone their separate ways.



At 8.31 GMT, software on Mars Express was scheduled to send the command for the Beagle 2 lander to separate from the orbiter. This would fire a pyrotechnic device that would slowly release a loaded spring and gently push Beagle 2 away from the mother spacecraft at around 1 ft/s (0.3 m/s).

If all goes according to plan, the release mechanism will also cause Beagle 2 to rotate like a spinning top, stabilising its motion during the final stage of its flight towards Mars.


Since Beagle 2 does not have a propulsion system of its own, it must be carefully targeted at its destination. With Mars Express acting as a champion darts player aiming at a bullseye, Beagle 2 should be placed on a collision course with the planet, following a precise ballistic path that will enable it to hit a specific point at the top of the Martian atmosphere in six days’ time.

Initial confirmation that the separation manoeuvre has been successful is expected at 10.40 GMT, when the European Space Operations Centre (ESOC) in Darmstadt, Germany, should receive X-band telemetry data from Mars Express. Further information from Mars Express and Beagle 2 telemetry confirming separation should be returned by 11.10 GMT.

In addition, it is hoped that the orbiter’s onboard Visual Monitoring Camera (VMC) will provide pictures showing the lander moving slowly away. The images are expected to be available within hours of the separation event.

However, after six months in space, during which the spacecraft were buffeted by solar storms, the manoeuvre is not without risk. Although it has been tested many times on Earth, there is always the outside possibility that something may go wrong during the all-important separation.

Even if the separation is successful, Beagle 2 must rely on its own battery, which cannot last beyond 6 days, until its solar arrays are fully deployed on the surface. This means that Mars Express must release Beagle 2 at the last possible moment in order to ensure that the lander has enough power for the rest of its journey to the rust-red Martian plains.

This will be the first time that an orbiter has delivered a lander without its own propulsion onto a planet and then attempted orbit insertion immediately afterwards.

Meanwhile, Mars Express will follow Beagle 2 for a while until, three days before arrival at Mars, ground controllers will have to fire its thrusters and make it veer away to avoid crashing onto the planet.

Early on 25 December, Beagle 2 should plunge into the atmosphere before parachuting to its planned landing site, a broad basin close to the Martian equator, known as Isidis Planitia. Later that day, Mars Express should enter orbit around Mars.

Beagle 2 has no propulsion system of its own so it is carried to Mars by the Mars Express spacecraft which will go into orbit around the planet for remote sensing purposes.

Gill Ormrod | alfa
Further information:
http://www.beagle2.com
http://www.pparc.ac.uk/Mars
http://www.esa.int/mars

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Subnano lead particles show peculiar decay behavior
25.04.2018 | Ernst-Moritz-Arndt-Universität Greifswald

nachricht Getting electrons to move in a semiconductor
25.04.2018 | American Institute of Physics

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: BAM@Hannover Messe: innovative 3D printing method for space flight

At the Hannover Messe 2018, the Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und-prüfung (BAM) will show how, in the future, astronauts could produce their own tools or spare parts in zero gravity using 3D printing. This will reduce, weight and transport costs for space missions. Visitors can experience the innovative additive manufacturing process live at the fair.

Powder-based additive manufacturing in zero gravity is the name of the project in which a component is produced by applying metallic powder layers and then...

Im Focus: Molecules Brilliantly Illuminated

Physicists at the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics, which is jointly run by Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, have developed a high-power laser system that generates ultrashort pulses of light covering a large share of the mid-infrared spectrum. The researchers envisage a wide range of applications for the technology – in the early diagnosis of cancer, for instance.

Molecules are the building blocks of life. Like all other organisms, we are made of them. They control our biorhythm, and they can also reflect our state of...

Im Focus: Spider silk key to new bone-fixing composite

University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.

Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.

Im Focus: Writing and deleting magnets with lasers

Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.

Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...

Im Focus: Gamma-ray flashes from plasma filaments

Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.

The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

IWOLIA: A conference bringing together German Industrie 4.0 and French Industrie du Futur

09.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Getting electrons to move in a semiconductor

25.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Reconstructing what makes us tick

25.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Cheap 3-D printer can produce self-folding materials

25.04.2018 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>