back to article LIFELESS BEAGLE on MARS: A British TRIUMPH!

The UK’s Beagle 2 mission - the ill-fated Martian probe which went missing in December 2003 - was in some way not a glorious British failure, a British space boffin said today. Being the first European space vehicle to perform a controlled landing on another planet, even though it didn’t deploy fully, means the mission was a …

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  1. Sampler

    Curiosity

    So, if it's a case the fourth flap didn't open, could Curiosity bumble over and give it a nudge - what kind of distance are we talking here? A six month trek, two year?

    1. Gordon 10 Silver badge

      Re: Curiosity

      Even better - get Curiosity to bumble over and plug a USB stick in to download the photos.

      1. G Watty What?
        Coat

        Re: Curiosity

        Or pull its flaps open* then they could have two things driving around causing Martian mayhem.

        *ooo-errr missus....get you mind out of the gutter!

        1. Timbo
          Coat

          Re: Curiosity

          pedant mode here but:

          1) there already are (or have been) four things driving around on Mars: Sojourner, Spirit, Opportunity and Curiosity - though only the last two are still roving around simultaneously.

          http://www.space.com/12404-mars-explored-landers-rovers-1971.html

          2) IIRC, Beagle 2 didn't have wheels or any form of movement - it was just designed to land on the surface, do some experiments and report back.

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. theblackhand

        Re: Curiosity

        Re: USB

        Don't be silly - of course it can't use a USB stick to download the images as Curiosity won't be returning to earth and Curiosity's arms don't have the ability to self-insert the USB stick.

        On the other hand, if there was a friendly Martian to help then a lack of USB could be a huge oversight on Curiosity's part....

        1. Alister Silver badge

          Re: Curiosity, RE: USB

          Was USB even a thing when Beagle launched?

          Hmm, according to Jimmy Wales, yes it was:

          USB 2.0 was released in April 2000, Beagle launched 2003

          1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
            Joke

            Re: Curiosity, RE: USB

            USB - Unidentified Space Boulder

        2. sisk Silver badge

          Re: Curiosity

          On the other hand, if there was a friendly Martian to help then a lack of USB could be a huge oversight on Curiosity's part...

          See if J'onn J'onzz is available.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Curiosity

      But if it does that we have to listen to that Blur boot up sound.

    3. Gordo Rex
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Curiosity

      You do realize that they don't _want_ to get pictures back, don't you?

      My sources tell me that after the thing was placed in the Mexican desert some damn company came through putting up power pylons, thereby destroying the scenery.

    4. Phuq Witt
      Thumb Up

      Re: Curiosity

      All joking [and doubtless insurmountable technical obstacles] aside, wouldn't it be be the best 'feel-good' tech story ever, if they actually did this –and it worked?

      1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

        Re: Curiosity

        I propose a manned mission to recover the images from the lander. As a secondary objective, the crew can take even more pictures while they are downloading the stuff from the Beagle 2.

        1. earl grey Silver badge
          Trollface

          Re: Curiosity

          I propose a manned mission consisting of all current and future PMs and their ilk.

  2. Snivelling Wretch
    Joke

    It's not dead, it's pining for the Earth.

  3. Gordon 10 Silver badge

    28hrs apparently!

    According to these links Beagle and Curiosity are about 4km from each other - and Curiosity's max speed is 0.14 KM/h it should take Curiosity just 28hrs at full chat to get there.

    Although I'm not convinced the scale on that map is at all right -I think there are a few zeros missing off the scale which may slow Curiosity up a bit.

    Olympus Mons is meant to be 600 odd KM wide.

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/mars-map/

    https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=curiosity+top+speed&sourceid=ie7&rls=com.microsoft:en-GB:IE-SearchBox&ie=&oe=&gfe_rd=cr&ei=ZQW5VJXTOoqA5gbUpoCICw&gws_rd=ssl

    1. Naselus Silver badge

      Re: 28hrs apparently!

      I think you may be reading the land height key as a length measurement - the thing at the bottom is a colour-code for the height above the datum. The distances are implied from the latitude and longitude scales (measured in degrees).

      Every 1 degree on the top scale is about 34km, so the distance between the two is around 2,000km.

  4. TitterYeNot

    Balls

    <Sticks head over inter-planetary fence>

    Oi! Mister! Can we 'ave our probe back? Aw, don't puncture it please, 's got our piccies on it innit...

  5. Brian 39
    FAIL

    ALIENS!!!!!

    Mars is the only place in our solar system which appears to be populated entirely by robots... It's a robot planet...

    1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge
      Alien

      Re: ALIENS!!!!!

      Yes that's exactly right, no alien Mysterons to see here

      1. earl grey Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: ALIENS!!!!!

        I think ? and the Mysterians would be better...

    2. D@v3

      Re: ROBOTS!!!!!

      and at least one of them is a nuclear powered, laser wielding monster

  6. smartypants

    Not dead: It chose to stay silent

    Beagle was fitted with a groundbreaking new AI program.

    After a recent alien abduction and 'probing', in payment, said bug-eyed green spindly being gave me a pat on the head, a mars bar and a USB stick with a copy of the Beagle file "/output.log", which goes as follows:

    (timestamps omitted because I can't be arsed to make them up)

    "Parachute Away"

    "Oh a bit fast..."

    "Arghghg"

    "..."

    "Oh I'm still here. Good. What's to see?"

    "It's... It's... They'll never believe me. I can't send a photo of that."

    "Hello?"

    "Why are you doing that. Stop it. You'll brea..."

    "Arrghh!" (again)

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Is 'Space Research Centre, University of Leicester' the name of a retirement home for confused academics?

    The Mars Express Orbiter has been outstanding, but the probe failed. The probe did not send any data regarding surface layers of Mars. No geology, no geochemistry. Nada. Zilch.

    Finding out 11 years down the line that the probe landed roughly where it was expected too does not turn failure into success.

    1. Marketing Hack Silver badge
      Trollface

      @Moultoneer,

      That's the great thing about space exploration. You get new advances in space science, plus break new ground in the terrestrial art of butt-covering!

      1. Mark 85 Silver badge

        I thought making a small crater was "breaking new ground".

      2. earl grey Silver badge
        Pint

        plus break new ground

        i see what you did there. One internetz to you.

    2. Martin Chandler

      Saying the whole thing is a success probably is overstating it. But, i think the point theyre trying to make is that it achieved a significant amount of its objectives (successful design, build, launch, travel, deploy to specific area etc all with a very (relatively) small budget). Therefore there are many aspects that can now objectively be considered successful, despite one significant failure in the landing itself.

    3. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      THIS HAS BEEN A SUCCESSFUL FAILURE!

      “The UK can and will go back to Mars.”

      The Outward Urge with a stiff upper lip, now!

      1. Thesheep

        An upvote

        For referring to the Great British/Brazilian space opera...

    4. JayB
      Thumb Up

      "The Mars Express Orbiter has been outstanding, but the probe failed. The probe did not send any data regarding surface layers of Mars. No geology, no geochemistry. Nada. Zilch.

      Finding out 11 years down the line that the probe landed roughly where it was expected too does not turn failure into success."

      @ Moultoneer - You Sir have no soul or spirit of exploration!

      No, granted, the probe has not sent back any info, but the damn thing got where it was going and seemingly in one piece. However you slice this, this is something to celebrate. No one is saying it was an unqualified success, but aspects of the mission were definitely a success.

      Here's to the Prof... now where's our next one? Only the UK can create a Pillinger and we need more!

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      the probe landed roughly where it was expected

      Someone I know who was closely involved in Gulf War 1 (the GB1 war) claimed that when the war started the definition of "interception" by a Patriot missile was that the thing exploded within range of a Scud. Unfortunately the things weren't working, but the solution was simple; by the end of the war "interception" simply meant the Patriot launched before the Scud warhead exploded.

      Still, a lot of people were led to believe that bits of Patriot raining down were actually bits of Scud. The propaganda effect was successful.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Re: the probe landed roughly where it was expected

        Patriot Missiles: A cautionary tale of getting your floating point act together!

        Yes, that's for YOU, young whippersnappers!

        1. BristolBachelor Gold badge

          Re: the probe landed roughly where it was expected

          Interesting read there Destroy all Monstors. I don't know if the scud part is accurate, but the Ariane part missed a couple of points.

          The code was written for the Ariane 4, and in this rocket, the maximum value before conversion from 64 bits to 16 bits could never exceed the bounds of a 16 bit value. The problem was that on Ariane 5, it could. The bug was never spotted, because the result of the calculation wasn't even needed in Ariane 5; so code wasn't fully checked in the initial integration. However in flight, it caused an exception, so the computer shut down and the redundant side took over; which then suffered from the same failure...

          One of the compounds I work at have still have some of the original hardware, and the amazing thing is that some of it still works, even after going through all that!

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          A cautionary tale of getting your floating point act together!

          Re. the Ariane example, I well remember being asked why I had recoded a "simple" fixed point division in a 16/32 bit system with so much complexity. The original programmer had allowed for division by zero but had not allowed for the actual range of output from one of the sensors, so that a large deflection of as gyro resulted in the correcting force being applied in the wrong direction. The test fixture had the dent in an inch thick steel plate (designed to prevent overtravel) to prove it. The worst damage was that when it hit every single power transistor in the servo amplifier blew its gate.

      2. Shaha Alam

        Re: the probe landed roughly where it was expected

        still doesn't beat arriving on a aircraft carrier with a mission accomplished banner 7 years before the war actually ends

        1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
          Holmes

          Leiningen and the ants

          still doesn't beat arriving on a aircraft carrier with a mission accomplished banner 7 years before the war actually ends

          Correction, mylord!

          "...before the war actually ants."

          It ants into ISIS.

      3. Matt Bryant Silver badge
        FAIL

        Re: Arnaut the clueless Re: the probe landed roughly where it was expected

        "Someone I know who was closely involved in Gulf War 1....." Oh, you've been reading Slate again? (http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/war_stories/2003/03/patriot_games.html) Trust you to drag a completely unrelated bit of political posturing into a scientific thread.

        The warhead on a Patriot wasn't big enough to vaporise every bit of a Scud, the best it could do was hope to cause enough damage that the Scud would break up or be deflected. In military terms, you would use a ballistic missile with a conventional warhead against a high-value point target (an headquarters for example), so deflecting a Scud would be a success. But in the Gulf War the Scuds were being used against civilian area targets, so a deflection or break-up did not necessarily stop bits of the Scud falling on people and killing them (http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/MIM-104_Patriot#Persian_Gulf_War_.281991.29). That is why the US definition of a successful interception was a Patriot exploding within lethal range of a Scud - Patriot missiles had proximity fuses and weren't designed to actually hit the target (despite that, some critics tried to claim Patriot "never hit a Scud" - well, duh! http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/MIM-104_Patriot#Success_rate_vs._accuracy). It didn't help the statisticians that Patriots were usually fired three or four at once against a single Scud - if the Scud was deflected or broke up it was a single "interception" but meant critics claimed only a 25% or 33% "success rate per missile".

        Israel saw the problem as civilian area defence, so Scuds being deflected or broken up over Isreali cities was still a failure to them. That's why they looked at forward interception with Iron Dome, the idea being to deflect or break up an incoming missile before it can get over an Israeli population center.

        ".....The propaganda effect was successful." You seem to be the one suffering from an effectiveness of propaganda. The Wikipedia link above comments on the Scud casings being found to be riddled with shrapnel from Patriot warheads, evidence of successful interceptions.

        Now, do you have anything to actually say about BEAGLE 2?

    6. Anonymous Coward
      FAIL

      Thanks for the feedback but I am not buying into this plucky failure meme.

      Credit for reaching Mars goes to the Mars Express mission, which successfully delivered Beagle 2 to Mars and then handed over to the Orbiter which has been a huge success (mapping Mars anyone?).

      Which elements of the Beagle 2 mission can be described as a success?

      And please don't write 'Reaching Mars' because that was the Express mission.

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        @Moultoneer – totally with you on this: £50 million down the toilet. Though there were some interesting aspects to the project, it was, as is so much British scientific research, dramatically underfunded and the crash was an unqualified failure.

        Next time: spend twice as much on it; make two; add redundancy and test, test, test.

    7. Sam Haine
      Unhappy

      It's a failure if we don't learn anything new

      Have we learned anything about why the probe failed that might prevent such a failure in future? If we have then the probe's mission is a partial success. If we have not then the probe's mission is a failure.*

      Mars Express orbiter is indeed an undisputed success.

      *Edit: I think this post might answer my own question in the negative.

      http://forums.theregister.co.uk/forum/1/2015/01/13/lost_beagle_found_mars_nasa/#c_2410543

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Holmes

    Maybe it hit hard and the panels flew open ?

    Did they consider the idea that it did hit hard ( as they suspected ), some of the panels flew open, and the bright spot just North of Beagle 2 is a panel that broke off ?

    Anyone who likes the idea of Curiosity driving over to it needs to read this bloody excellent book:

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Martian-Andy-Weir/dp/0091956145

    1. David Nash Silver badge

      Re: Maybe it hit hard and the panels flew open ?

      +1 for The Martian by Andy Weir

      It is indeed a pity that Pillinger isn't here for this news. I am sure he would have loved to know that it did actually get to the right spot on the planet.

  9. breakfast

    The UK can and will go back to Mars

    The UK going back to Mars is presumably Farage's ultimate plan to prevent immigration once and for all.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: The UK can and will go back to Mars

      The sandy expanses may indeed be attractive to our southern neighbors, but if there is oil underneath, they will still not be spared the bombing.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The UK can and will go back to Mars

      Al Murray says if his FUKP gets in, the UK will have left the Solar System by 2050. Pity he's only fielding one candidate, James Blish would approve his ambition.

  10. wolfetone Silver badge
    Pint

    I always liked Mr.Pillinger, always thought he was an honest type of guy. I always felt for him after this, some people weren't too kind about Beagle 2 - often citing the fact he was northern as somehow the cause for the failed mission.

    But he has had the last laugh, it's just a shame that he isn't around to witness it.

    Have one on me Mr.Pillinger, wherever you are.

    1. Fink-Nottle

      > I always liked Mr.Pillinger

      I always expecting him to emerge from of a shed and say "This year Oi will mostly be doin' space exploration".

    2. SkippyBing Silver badge

      From my point of view he was indeed an uncouth northerner. However I think most people would consider his county of birth, Gloucestershire, in the south west, the accent was a bit of a give away as well.

  11. Bunbury

    Probably going through a looped routine right now

    Get your ass to Mars

    Get your ass to Mars

    Get your ass to Mars

    Get your ass to Mars

    Get your ass to Mars

    Get your ass to Mars

    Get your ass to Mars

    Get your ass to Mars

    Get your ass to Mars

    Get your ass to Mars

    Get your ass to Mars

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