5 Jan 2004
(Source: The Open University)
Media Invite: Mars Express attempts communication with Beagle 2
11:30 am GMT, 7th January 2004
Beagle 2 Media Centre
The Open University
1-11 Hawley Crescent
Notes for Editors
There has been no response from the Beagle 2 transceiver during the 11 programmed passes. Unfortunately, the last four contact opportunities pre-programmed into Beagle 2's computer no longer coincide with Mars Express on its current orbit, so the team is now relying on the spacecraft switching to various back-up communication modes.
The mission team is now waiting for the lander to switch to one of its backup communication modes. Beagle 2 could already be operating in 'communication search mode 1', during which it listens for 80 minutes during both the Martian day and night in an effort to establish contact with an available orbiter.
If no link is established by this method, 'communication search mode 2' should eventually be activated. The earliest date by which this mode could become operational was 3 January. In this mode, the receiver is on for 59 minutes out of every hour throughout the Martian day, and the spacecraft sends a carrier signal five times in each daylight hour. During the Martian night, Beagle 2's receiver will be on for one minute out of every five, but there is no carrier signal.
Although Mars Odyssey will continue to search for the lander, Mars Express will soon become the prime communication link with Beagle 2. ESA's orbiter should pass over the Beagle 2 landing site regularly from 7 January onwards. Various modes of communication can be attempted during passes by Mars Express, although the team anticipates starting on 7 and 8 January with the standard 'hail and command' which has been used with Mars Odyssey.
The first four passes with Mars Express (7, 8, 9 and 10 January) are almost directly over the landing site and only 5 to 8 minutes long, so they are not ideal for communication, whereas the opportunities on 12 and 14 January are potentially much longer.
The Beagle 2 Media Centre is located at:
The Open University ? Camden Offices
1-11 Hawley Crescent
Camden, London NW1 8NP
Tel: +44 (0)1908-332015 or +44 (0)1908-332017
Fax: +44 (0)1908-332016