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Beagle 2 team still hopes to repeat Mars landing success

At a press briefing in London today, Professor Colin Pillinger (Open University), Beagle lead scientist, and Dr Mark Sims (University of Leicester), the mission manager, congratulated their colleagues at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory on the successful landing of the Spirit rover on Mars.

"I'd like to give congratulations to NASA and the Spirit team for getting the lander down safely," said Professor Pillinger. "We wish them every luck."

Adding his congratulations, Mark Sims said, "I'd like to reiterate the international cooperation we've been getting in terms of looking for Beagle. In particular, the JPL team which has been working very strange hours supporting the Odyssey passes, Lockheed Martin, who've been running the Odyssey spacecraft, Jodrell Bank, Westerborg, the British Astronomical Association and Malin Space Science Systems. Mike Malin is looking at imaging the landing site potentially from tomorrow."

Meanwhile, the search for Beagle 2 goes on.

"We haven't in any shape or form given up on Beagle 2," said Professor Pillinger.

"We have realised that Mars Express is not in the orbit we originally expected, so our communication strategy is now different from the one that we explained at the beginning of last week."

Describing the ongoing work at the Lander Operations Control Centre, Mark Sims explained that teams from the University of Leicester, SciSys and Astrium are continuing their efforts to identify possible failure modes that can be addressed.

"We're still concentrating on both the communications and timing/software issues, and working our way through the logic and fault tree on the basis that Beagle 2 is on the surface of Mars and for some reason is failing to talk to us," said Dr. Sims.

"There are six or seven scenarios that we're still working through and we still can't eliminate any of those."

However, possible failure scenarios involving a reset of the clock hardware and
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Contact: Peter Barratt
peter.barratt@pparc.ac.uk
44-787-960-2899
Particle Physics & Astronomy Research Council
4-Jan-2004


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