[meteorite-list] Beagle 2 Leaves The UK To Join Mars Express For Mission To Red Planet

From: Ron Baalke <baalke_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Thu Apr 22 10:18:31 2004
Message-ID: <200302282155.NAA15268_at_zagami.jpl.nasa.gov>


Beagle 2 leaves the UK to join Mars Express for mission to red planet
British National Space Centre
February 24, 2003

Lord Sainsbury praises UK role in voyage to look for signs of life on Mars
Science Minister Lord Sainsbury today praised UK scientists and industry
for their role in the successful completion of work on the Beagle 2 probe
to Mars. The lander is today en route to Astrium, in Toulouse, France,
where it will be fitted to the Mars Express orbiter.

The European Space Agency (ESA) spacecraft will then be taken to Baikonur,
in Kazakhstan, where it will blast-off on a Soyuz-Fregat launcher this
summer on a sixmonth voyage to the Red Planet.

Lord Sainsbury said:

"The successful completion of Beagle 2 is a tribute to the vision of the
UK science community, the technical know-how of engineers from British
industry and the faith of our European partners."

"This is an important milestone in the history of the development of the
Beagle 2 lander. With it, the UK is playing a major role in the European
Space Agency's mission to Mars. Today marks the beginning of the next
phase in this exciting project."

Beagle 2 is designed to look for signs of life on Mars. It will be ejected
from the orbiter and parachute down to the surface of the planet. On
touchdown, it will deploy its robotic arm and paw which includes a mole to
burrow into the ground and collect soil samples. These will be analysed
for signs of past and present biological activity using the innovative Gas
Analysis Package (GAP) developed by Professor Colin Pillinger's team at
the Open University.

The lander is also packing a suite of instruments that will measure the
weather, including temperature, pressure and wind.

The Beagle 2 project is headed by the Open University, which has provided
the science lead, and Astrium, which is the prime industrial contractor.
It involves a consortium of academic institutions and industrial
subcontractors, and is funded by a unique public/private partnership.

The Mars Express spacecraft, part of ESA's Horizons 2000 programme, is
designed to take a payload of seven state-of-the-art scientific
instruments to orbit Mars as well as the Beagle 2 lander. The orbiter
instruments will record data for at least one Martian year, or 687 Earth
days; Beagle 2 is designed to work for 180 Earth days. The satellite will
also carry a data relay system for communicating with Earth, including the
transfer of command and science data to and from Beagle 2.

Beagle 2 and Mars Express will undergo final tests at Toulouse. It is
expected that the spacecraft will then be sent to Baikonur next month.

Notes to Editors

1. The lander is funded through a partnership arrangement involving the
Open University, Astrium, the DTI, the Particle Physics and Astronomy
research Council (PPARC), the Office of Science and Technology and the
ESA, with the PPARC additionally providing part support for the mission
instruments. Principal Investigators for Beagle 2 come from the Open
University (Gas Analysis Package),

Leicester University (Environmental Sensors and the X-Ray Spectrometer)
and Mullard Space Science Laboratory (Imaging Systems). 2.

For more information on Beagle 2, contact:

    * Professor Colin Pillinger FRS
    * The Open University
    * Tel: +44 (0)1908 655169
    * Fax: +44 (0)1908 655910
    * Email: psrg_at_open.ac.uk
    * Internet: www.beagle2.com
    * Press Enquiries: 020 7215 0806/0905
    * (Out of Hours: 020 7215 3234/3505)
    * Public Enquiries: 020 7215 5000
    * Textphone (for people with hearing impairments): 020 7215 6740
    * http://www.bnsc.gov.uk
Received on Fri 28 Feb 2003 04:55:15 PM PST

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