#Mystery #Mars – Solving The Beagle 2 Mystery: UK Mars Probe Nearly Had A Perfect Landing, Says Study : Finally, there are curtains to the long drawn mystery around the ill-fated UK Mars Lander Beagle 2. According to new research, the spacecraft was close to success when it was reported as “vanished” and the whereabouts were detected after many years.
Uncertainty was dogging the real reason behind the failure of the probe in communicating with Earth as confusion prevailed whether it indeed landed on Mars or perished on the Martian surface.
Now scientists in Leicester are claiming that they have moved a step closer to unraveling the mystery.
In a press note, the University of Leicester said an “innovative research technique” led to the conclusion that Beagle 2 never crashed, landed well on Mars and had a deployment of most of the solar panels.
Planning to publish the findings soon, researchers claimed that their analysis had all data from different sun angles in proving the point.
“This work (further) confirms that the Entry, Descent and Landing (EDL) sequence for Beagle 2 worked as expected and the lander did successfully touchdown on Mars on Christmas Day 2003.”
However, there was an unconfirmed reason that blocked the communications even after the landing. It could have been an incomplete deployment of the panels. Maybe, despite the three-panel deployment, the RF antenna still failed to transmit through the fourth un-deployed panel.
Gains Of Reflection Analysis
The revived investigation to fix the communication failure of Beagle 2 was initiated by Professor Mark Sims, former Mission Manager of Beagle 2 at the University of Leicester. He conceived “reflection analysis” that sought to match the lost spacecraft’s simulated and real images.
Sims joined hands with researchers from De Montfort University to develop the new model to understand more about the different configurations of the lander on the Martian surface. He also used commercial software for 3D modeling, visual effects and simulation to advance the analysis.
De Montfort’s visualization specialist Teodora Kuzmanova’s 3D model of the Beagle 2 Mars Lander lent good support to Sims in studying the accurate reflection of virtual sunlight.
Commenting on the effort, Nick Higgett, leader of the De Montfort University Simulation team, called it an “exciting collaboration.”
Sims said the “reflection analysis” confirmed that antenna transmission might have been hampered by one of the panels that failed to open correctly.
The new experiments confirmed the orientations of the heat shield of Beagle 2 detected on Mars. The information may further support the analysis why Beagle 2 failed in communicating from Mars’ surface.
Beagle 2 And ESA Mars Express Mission
Launched in 2003, Beagle 2 was part of the ESA Mars Express Mission that is still orbiting Mars.
The UK Mars probe was a joint venture between the industry and universities and was supposed to deliver world-class data from Mars.
Expectations zoomed after Beagle 2 ejected from ESA’s Mars Express on Dec. 19, 2003. A week later, it had a scheduled landing on Christmas Day. But no signal came after that.
For almost a decade, it was thought as lost until in 2014 NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter took its images from Mars’ surface, which showed that the UK probe indeed landed on Mars.