Beagle 2 on Mars - the Discovery Assessed

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J. Clemmet et al (2017), JBIS, 70, pp.262-277

Refcode: 2017.70.262
Keywords: Beagle 2, Mars, Express, HiRISE, lander, discover

With no contact following landing on Christmas Day 2003, the Beagle 2 mission was declared lost early 2004. A glinting object seen in Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter HiRISE camera images has been identified as the Beagle 2 late 2014. This paper presents the evidence that the objects seen are indeed Beagle 2 through a series of evaluations of the objects identified on the surface. How the hardware may appear on the surface is presented. Size, reflectivities, location and dispersion on the surface are compared with expectations and the natural terrain. A virtual modelling technique has been developed to simulate the HiRISE images to enable determination of the state of deployment of the Lander. Based upon the outcomes from these analyses, an impressive list of mission successes has been compiled together with the potential causes for the loss of the mission. Although not possible to identify the cause for the loss of mission, these assessments provide strong evidence for Beagle 2 having reached the surface of Mars, releasing the Lander and deploying three of its solar panels and possibly all four. Beagle 2 is the UK's and Europe's first mission to land onto the surface of another body in our Solar System.

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