Eighth Attempt to Reach Beagle 2 Fails

Image credit: Beagle 2

The search for Beagle 2 continues. Operators announced on December 31 that the British lander had failed to report in for the eighth time. At this point, the lander will have switched to a new mode where it tries to communicate twice a day. Although unlikely, it’s possible that Beagle 2’s onboard timer was reset during the landing, which would mean it was trying to communicate out of sync with Mars Odyssey and Earth-based radio telescopes. Mars Express will start searching on January 5, which operators believe will bring their best chances of finding it.

News on the outcome of today’s communication attempt via Mars Odyssey was delayed for several hours because NASA’s Deep Space Network is also being used for the Mars Exploration Rover and Stardust missions, which will be reaching their climax in the next few days.

As from last night, Beagle 2 should have switched to an emergency mode known as ‘ communication search mode 1′ (CSM 1). When the lander switches to CSM 1, it attempts to communicate twice every Martian day (sol), during the best daytime and best night-time pass by an available orbiter.

Meanwhile, ESA’s Mars Express orbiter was successfully inserted into a polar orbit around the Red Planet yesterday morning. This manoeuvre means that Mars Express will be ideally placed to communicate with Beagle 2 when it passes over the landing site in Isidis Planitia in a few days’ time.

An updated list of future opportunities to communicate with Beagle 2, including pre-programmed sessions with Mars Express, is posted on the Beagle 2 Web site.

The next Beagle 2 press briefing is scheduled to take place at the Media Centre in Camden on Sunday 4 January. Details will be confirmed on the Web sites at a later date.

Original Source: PPARC News Release