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210 comments

Why?? (0, Troll)

TooCynical (323240) | more than 8 years ago | (#14298265)

"The Beagle 2 lead scientist has been painstakingly studying images of the landing site in search of his spacecraft ever since it was lost on Christmas Day two years ago. "

Why? Is he going to run up and get it once he locates it?

Clearly he has spent too much time collaborating with the fine folks at NASA that kind of professional time-wasting may only be learned from an american.

R

Re:Why?? (0)

Pieroxy (222434) | more than 8 years ago | (#14298280)

The thing is, when you look at the picture in the article (I know, you need to RTFA), you wonder how they deduced from this that it was the crashing site...

Anyway, what are they to do about it? Send a shovel and a cross to bury it?

--
Is eBay loosing it? [blogspot.com]

Re:Why?? Send a shovel? (3, Funny)

davidsyes (765062) | more than 8 years ago | (#14298495)

Why, that's too costly, even for NASA. They'll contract their Marshi-pino counterparts to pack up the pieces and ship them back to Earth.

Or, worse, the US & UK will advocate ignoring the Earth-based policies toward abandoned vesses and craft. Then, they'll tell the Martians (a la Columbus), "WE discovered YOU!"... There'll be mumbo jumbo about minutae in contracts and then it'll end with the Earthers saying, "Look, a DEAYUL's A DEAYUL!"..

Then, the Martians will promptly (and, rightly) zap our asses back to kingdom come...

Re:Why?? (4, Insightful)

NeoThermic (732100) | more than 8 years ago | (#14298304)

>>Why? Is he going to run up and get it once he locates it?

Of course not, that would be stupid to say.

The whole point of looking at failure is to work out *why* it happend, and *how* you can prevent it. The probe was lost as it entered the atmosphere, and never managed to send out its signal to earth. Looking at images of how it failed will give clues to any future missions.

You also must remember that a high percentage of probes sent to Mars fail. There's obviously a need to work out how these things fail and work out ways to prevent it from happning again.

NeoThermic

Re:Why?? (4, Insightful)

AnonymousJackass (849899) | more than 8 years ago | (#14298372)

The whole point of looking at failure is to work out *why* it happend, and *how* you can prevent it.

In general I fully agree with you but in this instance I think you're a little off the mark. There's no way the Beagle 2 team will be able to determine exactly what went wrong just by analyzing images. All an image -- however high the resolution -- is going to do is confirm that yes, it did crash or yes, it landed properly but failed to communicate. To determine the why and how of their failure would require a mission to investigate the crash site.

Re:Why?? (2, Interesting)

NeoThermic (732100) | more than 8 years ago | (#14298397)

Of course. Images are (excuse the pun) only part of the full picture. Combined with sensor readings (that they should have up to a point), and other various information factors, they should be able to work out what happend with a decent degree of accuracy.

The images will generally show how it crashed, from which you can work out how it came to crash like that, which is generally the information you want.

NeoThermic

Re:Why?? (5, Insightful)

david.given (6740) | more than 8 years ago | (#14298427)

All an image -- however high the resolution -- is going to do is confirm that yes, it did crash or yes, it landed properly but failed to communicate.

That's actually a surprisingly large amount of information. Assuming this image is actually the probe, it allows us to rule out all the various catastrophic failure modes, which in turn tells us that the landing system actually worked. Had the probe failed to make it through reentry, or had the parachute or airbags not deployed, then we wouldn't be seeing this --- the probe would be scattered in lots of little pieces across the Martian surface.

In turn this allows us to validate this entire means of landing. Actually reaching the ground in one piece is possibly the hardest aspect of any extraterrestrial robotic mission, and if a low-budget approach like Beagle's actually works, then that's great news. In this case, we can tell that even though a few things went wrong and we lost the vehicle, this entire approach to getting down does, basically, work.

Why not?? (4, Informative)

Savage-Rabbit (308260) | more than 8 years ago | (#14298645)

In general I fully agree with you but in this instance I think you're a little off the mark. There's no way the Beagle 2 team will be able to determine exactly what went wrong just by analyzing images. All an image -- however high the resolution -- is going to do is confirm that yes, it did crash or yes, it landed properly but failed to communicate. To determine the why and how of their failure would require a mission to investigate the crash site.

I'm not so sure about that. The fact that Beagle has been found at all has already told the designer that it didn't burn up on in the atmosphere and if it was found in more or less the the right place the designer can also conclude that most likely there was nothing wrong with the navigation. If they ever manage to get any close-up photos of Beagle of sufficiently high resolution they can perhaps also determine whether it was damaged on landing, perhaps, due to a failiure of the landing mechanism. If Beagle is structurally intact one would conclude that it is most likely something went wrong with the electronics. While none of this will pinpoint the exact faliure it will still help to rule out at least some causes of faliure and confirm which aspects of the design were sound and which probably weren't which will in turn help with the design of Beagle II if such a mission ever sees the light of day.

Re:Why?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14298373)

>>Why? Is he going to run up and get it once he locates it?
>Of course not, that would be stupid to say.
>
>The whole point of looking at failure is to work out *why* it happend, and *how* you can prevent it.

I'm pretty sure *that* would be stupid to say, too...

Beagle 3 (1)

fantomas (94850) | more than 8 years ago | (#14298310)

Because they are thinking of building another one. Nice to find out what went wrong with the last one, avoid the same mistakes, eh?

actually (3, Funny)

Alien54 (180860) | more than 8 years ago | (#14298339)

he wants to get some ID on the two martian teanagers who have it up on cider blocks, and who have been scavaging it for parts for their own geek project.

let's face it. This is something that you would do, if a bit of alien technology came crashing down out of the skies.

Re:Why?? (5, Interesting)

fremsley471 (792813) | more than 8 years ago | (#14298482)

The lander's weakest point was the descent system. 3 months before the delivery date they discovered that the parachutes were too small and had to chop more vital kilos off the science mission. They were already aiming for one of the lowest parts of Mars, i.e. longest path and highest atmospheric density. Before Beagle landed, a colleague reported that in a lecture the previous summer, Prof. Pillinger said that the parachute's size wasn't critical as it 'collects air' which helps slow the lander down...

Prof. Pillinger is, understandably, clutching at straws. The science (and academic PR) aspects of Beagle were first class. The engineering (i.e. the expensive bit), was totally underfunded and was eventually overwhelmed. If he can prove that the concept was fine and dandy, but something small went wrong, then he can (with much greater authority) go and ask for money for a new one. However, it's unlikely after ESA's board of inquiry, that Prof. Pillinger will ever be involved at such a senior level again. http://www.esa.int/esaCP/SEMLKAHHZTD_index_0.html [esa.int]

Re:Why?? (2, Interesting)

0123456 (636235) | more than 8 years ago | (#14298619)

"Before Beagle landed, a colleague reported that in a lecture the previous summer, Prof. Pillinger said that the parachute's size wasn't critical as it 'collects air' which helps slow the lander down..."

But in a sense that's true: provided it's big enough to slow the lander to the correct terminal velocity before the landing, the size doesn't matter... make it ten times bigger and you'll just be floating down for longer under the parachute.

On the other hand, if it's 10% too small, you're probably screwed.

Re:Why?? (2)

east coast (590680) | more than 8 years ago | (#14298681)

Why? Is he going to run up and get it once he locates it?

Because when an experiment has undesired results it's often best to find out what seems to have gone wrong before you try the same experiment again... Nothing like throwing millions of Euros away on another probe in the hopes that it was "just some glitch that might not happen again".

Clearly he has spent too much time collaborating with the fine folks at NASA that kind of professional time-wasting may only be learned from an american.

Clearly you spend too much time bashing Americans to take the time to think why understanding how one experiment fails may help another be a success.

wait! (4, Funny)

zxnos (813588) | more than 8 years ago | (#14298270)

i think i see waldo in that high quality image...

Re:wait! (0)

Microsift (223381) | more than 8 years ago | (#14298506)

Actually, it's Sam Waterston and O.J. Simpson...James Brolin must be on the crapper.....Watch out Sam...He's got a knife!

Uhhh (3, Funny)

lucabrasi999 (585141) | more than 8 years ago | (#14298274)

He thinks the craft may have hit the ground too hard

In other news, this evening, the Sun will set over the Western Horizon.

Re:Uhhh (5, Informative)

NeoThermic (732100) | more than 8 years ago | (#14298335)

The quote there is a bit short on words.

Basically the probe was designed to impact on the surface, after being slowed by the parachutes. The underside of the probe was capable and designed to impact hard. However, what appears to have happend is that the impact was side on, hitting where the probe wasn't designed to be hit, and doing fatial damage.

NeoThermic

Re:Uhhh (3, Funny)

aug24 (38229) | more than 8 years ago | (#14298391)

Possibly only fatal to the antenna too.

The suggestion is that Beagle is sitting in a martian crater wondering 'where did all the humans go?'!

J.

Re:Uhhh (1)

lakin (702310) | more than 8 years ago | (#14298704)

Well, if Beagle is wondering where we went, instead of wasting money on another explorer why dont we just wait for it to launch "Earth Express 1" into orbit to scan for us?

Re:Uhhh (2, Informative)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 8 years ago | (#14298405)

However, what appears to have happend is that the impact was side on, hitting where the probe wasn't designed to be hit, and doing fatial damage.

Not fatal damage, just tranceiver damage. They currently believe that the Beagle was operational, but that its radio instruments were damaged, thus preventing it from calling home.

Re:Uhhh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14298639)

Operational? I do not think it means what you think it means.

Re:Uhhh (2, Informative)

angusr (718699) | more than 8 years ago | (#14298406)

"He thinks the craft may have hit the ground too hard"

In other news, this evening, the Sun will set over the Western Horizon.


Bear in mind that impact damage was just one of many possible failure modes for Beagle 2. Transmitter failure, failure of the antenna to deploy, failure of the solar panels to produce enough power, failure of the onboard computers, and so on - there are lots and lots of reasons why it failed to transmit back to Earth. Up until now there's been an assumption catastrophic impact damage occurred, but if the interpretation of this picture is accurate then Beagle 2 appears to have made it down in basically one piece and may have actually been working long enough to unfold and deploy - so the impact was not catastrophic, but may have been far enough out of the designed envelope to damage the transmitter or the antenna.

Re:Uhhh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14298546)

Duh. That's only true in the Northern hemisphere.

Also.. (1)

NormHome (99305) | more than 8 years ago | (#14298644)

in other news... Mars declares war after earth space probe kills their leader who was out for an afternoon stroll in the desert... diplomats not hopeful that a peaceful settlement can be reached!

How would it search? (1, Interesting)

Mattygfunk1 (596840) | more than 8 years ago | (#14298277)

The robotic laboratory was designed to search Mars for signs of past or present life.

Anyone know how it was to go about this? I assume that it may analyse soil samples, but what else from there?

__
Funny Adult Video Clips [laughdaily.com] - updated 3 times daily.

Re:How would it search? (2, Funny)

Bazzalisk (869812) | more than 8 years ago | (#14298302)

Well - if the probe falls into a Canal then we'll know that it found previous life ...

Re:How would it search? (3, Funny)

shawn(at)fsu (447153) | more than 8 years ago | (#14298508)

And if it floats in that canal does that mean that probe is a witch?

Sorry I couldn't stop myself from typing this

Re:How would it search? (4, Funny)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 8 years ago | (#14298447)

"The robotic laboratory was designed to search Mars for signs of past or present life."

Anyone know how it was to go about this? I assume that it may analyse soil samples, but what else from there?

Drop business cards as it went: "If you are a living Martian, or you know where evidence of past Martians may be found, please call 1-800-BEAGLE2."

Holy crap (5, Funny)

Viper Daimao (911947) | more than 8 years ago | (#14298282)

I've seen less pixelated images of tits on network tv.

Re:Holy crap (1)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 8 years ago | (#14298337)

Yeah, but at least in that case, you know they're tits. Here, they think maybe kinda sorta perhaps it's the crash site.

Re:Holy crap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14298468)

Here, they think maybe kinda sorta perhaps it's the crash site.

Damn! I thought it was tits!

Location is not very good (4, Funny)

ReformedExCon (897248) | more than 8 years ago | (#14298307)

If it were closer to Cydonia, maybe we could pick up movement as the little guys take the spacecraft away and hide it in top secret Martian military bunkers.

I hope they don't have an equivalent Will Smith fighter pilot capable of flying our space ships over there. It'll make our invasion that much harder.

mod 04 (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14298316)

its corpse turned weel-known

I have seen... (1)

Byzanthy (934978) | more than 8 years ago | (#14298322)

images with a much better resolution showing a big face in the martian soil...
Just wishfull thinking i guess.

My mech has one of these! (1)

mister_llah (891540) | more than 8 years ago | (#14298325)

Ooo! If it is a Beagle Active Probe, we will be able to see 4 hexes, regardless of terrain! It is the ultimate close quarters detection tool, really.

Re:My mech has one of these! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14298362)

woohoo! I was waiting for the first battletech reference!

Incredible (5, Funny)

PeteQC (680043) | more than 8 years ago | (#14298346)

Wow, we can't find Bin Laden on Earth, but we can find Beagle 2 on Mars.

This is a funny world we live in...

Re:Incredible (5, Funny)

BushCheney08 (917605) | more than 8 years ago | (#14298365)

The solution is obvious. We need to start looking for Bin Laden on Mars!

Re:Incredible (2, Funny)

BushCheney08 (917605) | more than 8 years ago | (#14298683)

Interesting. Apparently I got modded "overrated" 3 times in the span of 1 minute. What are the chances of that?

Re:Incredible (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14298777)

Al Qaeda is trying to silence the truth? The terrorists have now truly won.

Re:Incredible ... Disturbance? In the Wa? (1)

davidsyes (765062) | more than 8 years ago | (#14298459)

""There is a lot of disturbance in this crater, particularly a big patch on the north crater wall which we think is the primary impact site," Professor Pillinger explains.""

It must've been quite a windy day in Arizona...

But, like the other poster said: "Wow, we can't find Bin Laden on Earth, but we can find Beagle 2 on Mars."

Seems like we've got our priorities misplaced...

Re:Incredible (1)

Somegeek (624100) | more than 8 years ago | (#14298604)

Clearly we need to send Professor Pillinger to Afganistan. I bet NASA will buy him a ticket there...

Beagle 2 was part of the Mars Express mission (5, Informative)

YA_Python_dev (885173) | more than 8 years ago | (#14298350)

The Beagle 2 lander was part of the very successful European Space Agency (ESA) [esa.int] Mars Express [esa.int] mission.

Mars Express contains 7 different scientific instruments and, amongs other things, it has already:

  • transmitted back gigabytes of beautiful images [esa.int] with a resolution of up to 2 meters/pixel;

Re:Beagle 2 was part of the Mars Express mission (1)

RalphSleigh (899929) | more than 8 years ago | (#14298472)

It also meant they could use NASA's Mars Global Surveyor to help look for Beagle right after it crashed. Wont be long now before we get the mars area wifi up...

The other way around (2, Interesting)

Izmir Stinger (876148) | more than 8 years ago | (#14298366)

I wonder how much different life would be today if the HMS Beagle had shipwrecked in the Galapagos and <i>Origin of the Species</i> had never been published.

Re:The other way around (4, Insightful)

aapold (753705) | more than 8 years ago | (#14298415)

Not much. Alfred Russel Wallace [wikipedia.org] independently developed the theory of evolution, such that Darwin had to rush his publication to establish precdedence. We'd have the Wallace awards, and little silver wallace fish with feet on cars, but otherwise much the same. His later conversion to Spiritualism would have given some ammo to anti-evolution arguments I suppose. ... in all seriousness he probably lacked the fame and reknown Darwin had prior to publication, and his theory would not have been taken as seriously coming form him as it did from Darwin.

Re:The other way around (1)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 8 years ago | (#14298439)

I'm going to pitch that to Fox. "It's like Lost, but with Darwin instead of John Locke".

Re:The other way around (1)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 8 years ago | (#14298720)

I wonder how much different life would be today if the HMS Beagle had shipwrecked in the Galapagos and Origin of the Species had never been published.

KANSAS MODE: ON

Pretty much the same. Satan would have found someone else to publish his deceits. However, Darwin himself would probably have been rescued by a bloody great fish and become a holy prophet for the LORD, so we might not be in such an appalling moral state today.

I, for one, welcome our Martian Snoopy overlords (-1, Redundant)

glengineer (697939) | more than 8 years ago | (#14298380)

Sorry, just had too....

Re:I, for one, welcome our Martian Snoopy overlord (2, Funny)

lucabrasi999 (585141) | more than 8 years ago | (#14298418)

Evil Overlord Rule # 50: My main computers will have their own special operating system that will be completely incompatible with standard IBM and Macintosh powerbooks.

In Memoriam Charles M. Schultz (5, Funny)

alephnull42 (202254) | more than 8 years ago | (#14298386)

Allow me be the first to say:

            "Curse you, Red Baron!"

   

Re:In Memoriam Charles M. Schultz (1)

dpilot (134227) | more than 8 years ago | (#14298812)

This assumes "Beagle 2" was rooted in the Peanuts metaphor.

OTOH, if "Beagle 2" was rooted in the Darwin metaphor, the crash could be construed as Creationist (or I.D.) revenge, or insufficient I.D. for Beagle 2, itself.

It could be a crash site or a tilted smiley face:) (2, Funny)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 8 years ago | (#14298393)

It all depends if you are a pessimist or an optimist.

The beagle 2 was designed... (1)

borawjm (747876) | more than 8 years ago | (#14298451)

to seek out life on mars. Perhaps this was some sort of martian conspiracy!

Fix what problems? We already did that or no? (0, Troll)

ami-in-hamburg (917802) | more than 8 years ago | (#14298470)

I don't see why they didn't just ask the US how we landed two probes successfully. If I remember correctly, those things were supposed to work for a month or two, then die. As far as I know they're still going.

Or were they launched at around the same time to test different landing mechanisms? Could be, who knows?

Re:Fix what problems? We already did that or no? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14298540)

Someone must have had a patent on how to land our probes....

Re:Fix what problems? We already did that or no? (1)

Tx (96709) | more than 8 years ago | (#14298571)

Because the US has had plenty of failures as well as successes landing probes on mars, and Beagle 2 was completed long before Spirit and Opportunity were landed on Mars, so there was no way to know they were going to be a success.

Re:Fix what problems? We already did that or no? (4, Insightful)

sane? (179855) | more than 8 years ago | (#14298578)

In general if you end up attempting to land in a crater then no matter what you do, and what landing system you have, you are in trouble. Historically US missions have been lucky, although I remember the Apollo 11 crew taking manual control at the last moment to avoid lunar craters/boulders. That could have ended differently.

Beagle was designed to bounce along the surface, losing energy in a controlled manner and coming to a safe stop. Dropping that into a crater is akin to putting the frog in the blender and dialing in a healthy shake. The bits might end up in roughly the same spot, but not necessarily in the same order.

I feel sorry for the Prof. He fought the system to do something that should have had far greater funding, and then they blamed him for what was partly bad luck and partly their fault. If you do a little research into the techology and the experiments planned its really quite amazing stuff. He deserved much more than he got.

Re:Fix what problems? We already did that or no? (3, Interesting)

karolo (595531) | more than 8 years ago | (#14298675)

Well, at least it landed on Mars. Remember when NASA lost a probe because they mixed up imperial and metric units?

Re:Fix what problems? We already did that or no? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14298676)

Maybe they could ask the US how to use a multiple number systems including non-ISO ones, get all confused, and lose two probes to Mars in one go?

Ignorant, arrogant prick.

Re:Fix what problems? We already did that or no? (0, Troll)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | more than 8 years ago | (#14298723)

As I understand it, if the Europeans sent 1,000 probes, it would still cost less than the US sending one.

Re:Fix what problems? We already did that or no? (1, Interesting)

Somegeek (624100) | more than 8 years ago | (#14298800)

"I don't see why they didn't just ask the US how we landed two probes successfully."
Because the guy in charge of the project, Professor Pillinger, was too busy bragging about how his probe was so superior to NASA designs.

This was not designed as a cooperative test of differing landing systems. The Beagle 2 project was seriously underfunded and just too short on time to properly test all of their systems.

Space Junk (1)

Aielman (735065) | more than 8 years ago | (#14298485)

With all the super expensive junk we keep dumping on Mars, it'll take better resolution/techniques to determine what's junk and what's a natural feature worth taking a look at.

Wouldn't you look? (4, Insightful)

eclipz (630890) | more than 8 years ago | (#14298492)

Honestly, if you had a project fail so spectacularly, and with so many people watching, wouldn't you want to do something (or anything) in your power to get back some of your credibility? Sure, they may be able to pinpoint some generic area of failure, such as 'hit too hard' or 'just doesn't work', but it's possible that he may just want to know what happened to his creation and gain a little bit of his own confidence and social status back.

If I sent a craft a few million miles, never heard from it again, and had the ability to possibly find it, I would probably do so.
---

I'm makin' waffles! They got peanuts and soap in 'em!

Bigfoot, UFOs, Beagle Probes (1)

mister_llah (891540) | more than 8 years ago | (#14298502)

What do those two things have in common?

Horrible photos (usually blurry)

Re:Bigfoot, UFOs, Beagle Probes (1)

CowsAnonymous (697884) | more than 8 years ago | (#14298756)

>Bigfoot, UFO's, Beagle Probes

>What do those two things have in common?

>Horrible photos (usually blurry)

Hey, wait. You listed THREE things. Obviously there are nuts out there who take the blurry photos of the TWO obvious choices, but must we bring the Bigfoot believers into this?

Oops (2, Funny)

LaughingCoder (914424) | more than 8 years ago | (#14298507)

The robotic laboratory was designed to search Mars for signs of past or present life.

Scientists are mortified to report that the Beagle 2 did indeed find life on Mars. Unfortunately, due to its poorly controlled re-entry it crashed into and killed all the Martian lifeforms ...

Crash site misidentified before (4, Interesting)

amightywind (691887) | more than 8 years ago | (#14298509)

Given that the Mars Polar lander crash site [newscientist.com] has been misidentified using better imagery, the chances that this is Beagle II are low. The image shown in the article is not compelling. There is the stench of politics surrounding the result. Very nearly worked? Uh Huh.

From the Article (2, Funny)

cbiltcliffe (186293) | more than 8 years ago | (#14298547)

FTA: "Professor Pillinger claims the images show Beagle 2 came very close to being the first spacecraft to mount a concerted search for life on the Martian surface."

The problem is, the Martian that saw it coming down mistakenly thought it was an interplanetary baseball, and gave it a good crack with his bat about 4 feet from the ground. Then it broke apart, he said "Mzck froltk!"(1) and ran off.

(1) "Mzck froltk" translates from Martian native dialect into, roughly, "Oh shit"

On MARS?! (0)

Sigg3.net (886486) | more than 8 years ago | (#14298552)

Spotted on MARS??!!
Great! .. All that time calculating everything and still some smuck managed to send him off to the wrong planet! Gees!

Mars Rover to the rescue? (2, Interesting)

jebilbrey (764968) | more than 8 years ago | (#14298600)

OK, let's just assume for the sake of argument that this is the Beagle...

Is this site anywhere near one of the Mars Rovers? Could they possibly drive there and examine it?

How cool would that be!?!?!

Definitely Not The Crash Site (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14298625)

It looks more like the face on Mars. [msss.com]

It was the white flag that did it... (2, Funny)

PenguinBoyDave (806137) | more than 8 years ago | (#14298628)

The French built-in a white flag for good measure to surrender to any Martians they may encounter.

Re:It was the white flag that did it... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14298803)

It broke before launch when a fat American sat on it. Didn't even hear it snap due to his loud complaining.
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