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Media Briefing: Beagle 2 Internal Inquiry Report to be Released

Press Release From: British National Space Centre
Posted: Friday, August 13, 2004

Tuesday 24 August 2004
The Science Media Centre
The Royal Institution of Great Britain, 21 Albemarle Street,
London W1S 4BS
Location map: http://www.sciencemediacentre.org/findus.htm
10.30am - 1.00pm inc. lunch

A six month internal investigation by the Beagle 2 Project Team has led to the publication of two open reports, both of which will be available at the briefing. [Advance copies will be available at www.le.ac.uk and via key websites (www.spacecentre.co.uk, www.beagle2.com,) from 12 noon on Monday 23rd August]

1.The Beagle 2 Mission Report - which describes the Flight operations and reports on the possible failure modes that may have prevented the Lander from returning a signal on 25th December 2003

2."Lessons Learned" - a complete list of lessons learned from the mission as a guide for future missions.

Dr. Mark Sims, Beagle 2 Mission Manager [University of Leicester] will outline the key findings from both reports, accompanied by representatives from the Open University, EADS Astrium and SciSys, partners within the Beagle 2 project.

Programme

10.30 Registration
11.00 Dr. Mark Sims, University of Leicester, Beagle 2 Mission Manager- summary of findings
11.30 Questions and Answer session
12.00 Interview opportunities
12.30 Lunch
13.00 Close

Media Registration

To confirm your attendance please contact Julia Maddock in the PPARC Press Office. Telephone: 01793 442094. Email: julia.maddock@pparc.ac.uk

Background Notes

Since 25th December 2003, the combined academic/industry Mission Operations team from the University of Leicester, EADS-Astrium and SciSys has been analysing data from Beagle 2 and since February 2004 conducting an internal enquiry into possible reasons for the non-fulfilment of the mission. The result is the Mission Report, which is based on all available information. Because no data was received from Beagle 2 following its successful ejection from Mars Express on the 19th December 2003 it is not possible to identify an exact failure mode however the Mission Report highlights a number of possibilities. Beagle 2 probably failed some where in the time critical and high risk phase of entry, descent and landing. The Mission Report analyses all identified potential failure modes and identify a subset that could be probable causes.

As a result of the non-fulfilment of the mission a number of Lessons Learned has been compiled and documented as a guide to making any Mars Lander mission more robust in the future. In addition the document also addresses a number of points regarding the management and programmatics of the Beagle 2 programme to clarify and address a number of issues raised elsewhere.

These reports represent the end of the first mission for Beagle 2. The team hopes however that the concept of small Mars Landers will not die with Beagle 2 and that the payload will fly again to conduct the world class science planned for the mission and that the technology developed will be used in future missions.

For further information contact:

Peter Barratt, PPARC
Tel: 01793 442025
Email: peter.barratt@pparc.ac.uk

Julia Maddock, PPARC
Tel: 01793 442094
Email: Julia.maddock@pparc.ac.uk

Ather Mirza, University of Leicester
Tel: 0116 2523335
Email: am74@leicester.ac.uk

Websites

Beagle 2 was the UK's first mission to another planet. The project is a partnership between the Open University, the University of Leicester and EADS Astrium (UK). Other funding partners included the European Space Agency (ESA), the Office of Science and Technology of the Department of Trade and Industry, the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council (PPARC), the Wellcome Trust, the National Space Centre and the Millennium Commission.

The National Space Centre, supported by the Millennium Commission with National Lottery funding, is the UK's largest attraction dedicated to the excitement of space. Co-founded by the University of Leicester and Leicester City Council; its other funding partners include, the East Midlands Development Agency and BT.

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