Going to Mars for Christmas

Mars Express is the first flexible mission in the revised ESA long-term scientific programme which was launched towards Mars in June 2003 with a Soyuz/Fregat launcher. <br>Credits: ESA-D. Ducros

Europe’s mission to the Red Planet, Mars Express, is on schedule to arrive at the planet on Christmas Day, 2003.

The lander, Beagle 2, is due to descend through the Martian atmosphere and touch down also on 25 December.
Mars Express is now within 20 million kilometres of the Red Planet and the next mission milestone comes on 19 December, when Mars Express will release Beagle 2. The orbiter spacecraft will send Beagle 2 spinning towards the planet on a precise trajectory.

Into orbit

Beagle has no propulsion system of its own, so it relies on correct aiming by the orbiter to find its way to the planned landing site, a flat basin in the low northern latitudes of Mars.

ESA engineers will then fire the orbiter’s main engine in the early hours of 25 December to put Mars Express into orbit around Mars (called Mars Orbit Insertion, or MOI).

Landing

When Beagle 2 begins its descent, it will be slowed by friction with the Martian atmosphere. Nearer to the surface, parachutes will deploy and large gas-filled bags will inflate to cushion the final touchdown. Beagle 2 should bounce to a halt on Martian soil early on Christmas morning.

The first day on Mars is important for the lander because it has only a few hours to collect enough sunlight with its solar panels to recharge its battery.

Waiting for signal

We then have to wait for the radio ’life’ signal from Beagle 2, relayed through the US Mars Odyssey spacecraft, to see if the probe has survived the landing. This could take hours or even days.

If nothing is received on Christmas morning, the UK Jodrell Bank Telescope will search for the faint radio signal from Beagle 2 in the evening. The Mars Express orbiter can also search for the lander but, because of its orbit, it will not be in place to do this until early January.

If all goes well, Mars Express and Beagle 2 will then begin their main mission – trying to answer the questions of whether there has been water, and possibly life, on Mars.

Media Contact

Irina Bruckner ESA

Alle Nachrichten aus der Kategorie: Physics and Astronomy

This area deals with the fundamental laws and building blocks of nature and how they interact, the properties and the behavior of matter, and research into space and time and their structures.

innovations-report provides in-depth reports and articles on subjects such as astrophysics, laser technologies, nuclear, quantum, particle and solid-state physics, nanotechnologies, planetary research and findings (Mars, Venus) and developments related to the Hubble Telescope.

Zurück zur Startseite

Kommentare (0)

Schreib Kommentar

Neueste Beiträge

Argonne targets lithium-rich materials as key to more sustainable cost-effective batteries

Next-generation batteries using lithium-rich materials could be more sustainable and cost-effective, according to a team of researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory. The pivotal discovery,…

Why disordered light-harvesting systems produce ordered outcomes

Scientists typically prefer to work with ordered systems. However, a diverse team of physicists and biophysicists from the University of Groningen found that individual light-harvesting nanotubes with disordered molecular structures…

RadarGlass – from vehicle headlight to radar transceiver

As a result of modern Advanced Driver Assistance Systems, the use of radar technology has become indispensable for the automotive sector. With the installation of a large and growing number…

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.

Close