Source Pravda.Ru

"Beagle mistake" teaches England a valuable lesson

The Beagle 2, named after the ship Charles Darwin sailed in when he formulated his theory of evolution, was built by British scientists for about $89.46 million and hitched a flight to Mars aboard the European Space Agency's orbiter Mars Express.

Britain and the European Space Agency said Monday they had learned from the failure of the Beagle 2 mission to seek out life on Mars, but kept a report on the high-profile flop tightly under wrap.

Beagle was due to crash into Mars in a bouncing ball of airbags and begin looking for signs of life on Christmas Day. But the lander lost contact with earth once it separated from the space ship in mid-December.

The European Space Agency and British government, which jointly commissioned an inquiry into what went wrong, said nobody was to blame for the risky mission's failure, inform Reuters.com

According to Telegraph.co.uk Professor Colin Pillinger, the mission's chief scientist, has said a Martian heatwave, caused by storms ripping up the atmosphere, could have led to Beagle 2's failure.

The dust storms appeared to have heated the Martian atmosphere making it thinner, Prof Pillinger said, meaning everything would have been triggered later.

As a result, Beagle 2's parachutes and the airbags that were supposed to cushion its fall would have been deployed too late or not at all. Prof Pillinger said there were only four copies of the report and he had not seen it.

He also pleaded for a new British space agency that could properly manage Britain's involvement in space exploration.

A second British Mars lander would be likely to cost £100 million, said Prof Pillinger - double the cost of Beagle 2.

One key recommendation for the future is that all landers carry a transmitter that would allow their descent to the surface to be followed. This was something the successful US rovers did.

Another is that high risk missions such as Beagle should never again have to seek sponsorship funding. They should always be fully publicly funded, Professor Southwood stated.

"The bottom line for me is that no single event led to failure and no single individual made a bad decision.

"However, failure was institutional. We were working in a system which wasn't right, where the organisational structures weren't right and people didn't have the right level of empowerment, authority or resources," reports BBC. co.uk

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