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 Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab
15.08.2018 | American Institute of Physics

nachricht Early opaque universe linked to galaxy scarcity
15.08.2018 | University of California - Riverside

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: Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab

A new study sheds light on how ultralow frequency radio waves and plasmas interact

Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...

Im Focus: New interactive machine learning tool makes car designs more aerodynamic

Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.

When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...

Im Focus: Robots as 'pump attendants': TU Graz develops robot-controlled rapid charging system for e-vehicles

Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.

Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....

Im Focus: The “TRiC” to folding actin

Proteins must be folded correctly to fulfill their molecular functions in cells. Molecular assistants called chaperones help proteins exploit their inbuilt folding potential and reach the correct three-dimensional structure. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) have demonstrated that actin, the most abundant protein in higher developed cells, does not have the inbuilt potential to fold and instead requires special assistance to fold into its active state. The chaperone TRiC uses a previously undescribed mechanism to perform actin folding. The study was recently published in the journal Cell.

Actin is the most abundant protein in highly developed cells and has diverse functions in processes like cell stabilization, cell division and muscle...

Im Focus: Lining up surprising behaviors of superconductor with one of the world's strongest magnets

Scientists have discovered that the electrical resistance of a copper-oxide compound depends on the magnetic field in a very unusual way -- a finding that could help direct the search for materials that can perfectly conduct electricity at room temperatur

What happens when really powerful magnets--capable of producing magnetic fields nearly two million times stronger than Earth's--are applied to materials that...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Within reach of the Universe

08.08.2018 | Event News

A journey through the history of microscopy – new exhibition opens at the MDC

27.07.2018 | Event News

2018 Work Research Conference

25.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Staying in Shape

16.08.2018 | Life Sciences

Diving robots find Antarctic seas exhale surprising amounts of carbon dioxide in winter

16.08.2018 | Earth Sciences

Protein droplets keep neurons at the ready and immune system in balance

16.08.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>