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Space Science

Jodrell Bank Telescope Gets No Signal From Beagle 425

Posted by michael
from the lawn-dart dept.
tipiyano writes "Continuing the story of Beagle 2 from earlier today it seems like the hope for Beagle 2 surviving the landing at Mars is reducing as the Jodrell Bank telescope didn't receive any signal from Beagle. In the words of a mission manager, 'I wasn't too worried about the missed link with Odyssey, but it starts getting serious if Jodrell Bank cannot get a signal either'."
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Jodrell Bank Telescope Gets No Signal From Beagle

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  • Bummer (Score:3, Interesting)

    by WindBourne (631190) on Friday December 26, 2003 @12:04AM (#7810787) Journal
    But the truth is, this is rocket science. Here is to hoping that the explorers do better.
  • One more reason... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by brinticus (581532) on Friday December 26, 2003 @12:10AM (#7810825)
    ...why a human launch to Mars is not quite ready for prime time. This is very difficult to stomach, seeing how the scientists must be devistated. But it would be much worse if there were humans on the other end of the bad news. My hope now is that the US can get *both* of it's robots down on the surface to make up for this (probable) great loss to science.

    -- "Technology is most likely to let you down when you need it most." (Montgomery's axiom)
  • by cascino (454769) on Friday December 26, 2003 @12:12AM (#7810836) Homepage
    If I remember correctly, we're 1 for 2 with the "bouncing spacecraft" idea (Pathfinder was successful, it looks like Beagle was not). Of the two failures in 2001, neither craft used the inflated-airbag approach; the lander used the old Viking method of landing (ie: rocket braking), while the orbiter simply went off course.
    I'm sure the Europeans are using a slightly different design than the Americans anyways, so from a NASA point of view, it's actually 1 for 1. We'll see within the next month whether this method is worthwhile or not.
  • Suggestion: Venus (Score:2, Interesting)

    by argoff (142580) on Friday December 26, 2003 @12:19AM (#7810862)
    I myself am a fan of going to Venus instead - one advantage is that it would be alot softer to land a balloon in the upper atmosphere of venus than on mars. But my main motivation is that I think Venus would be more suitable for human habitation.

    Venus (in the upper atmosphere) has nearly the same temperature, air pressure, gravity, and light as earth. Even though it has a lot of sulfuric acid (and CO2) - that is a lot easier to deal with than the cold hard vacume rock of Mars. With enough energy - lots of water, air, and carbon byproducts would be readially available. In addition, it is my understanding that a balloon of regular air would float on its own weight.
  • by kbonin (58917) on Friday December 26, 2003 @12:27AM (#7810889) Homepage
    I'd have to disagree - one of the basic advantages of sending humans is that if a computer decides to shut off the engines 50m in the air, a human would be smart enough to turn them back on and land the thing.

    Remember the first moon landing? Armstrong saw the rocks at the site were too big and numerous, and flew it somewhere safer...

    There are advantages to sending humans, and enough lost space missions could pay for one Mars Direct launch...
  • by mijok (603178) on Friday December 26, 2003 @12:29AM (#7810893)
    No, they were luckier. If you've looked at the pictures they took one of them (I don't remember if it was 1 or 2) landed right next to a rock which was big enough to break the probe if it had landed on it. I remember seeing an interview with an engineer involved in the mission - he explained that all they could do was pick the safest looking area but the images taken from orbit were nowhere near good enough to spot such rocks (not to mention that they didn't have the precision to avoid them either).
  • Calling all Bookies! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by segment (695309) <sil.politrix@org> on Friday December 26, 2003 @12:38AM (#7810931) Homepage Journal
    Flurry of bets on life in Mars
    Vijay Dutt
    London,

    Bookmakers in London were biting their nails with nervousness as Beagle 2 approached the touch down on Mars. On Tuesday Ladbrokes cut the odds on the mission discovering life there after a flurry of bets.

    Ladbrokes received many large bets following successful separation of the lander from its mother ship, Mars Express, on Friday. Others too reportedly similar increase in number of bets.

    Proof of life on Mars would leave the bookmaker liable for a huge payouts on wagers placed with them. Warren Lush, a Ladbrokes spokesman was quoted saying that odds on finding evidence of life on Mars were being reduced from 33-1 to 25-1 after facing a potential payout of hundreds of thousands of pounds.

    He conceded that the odds did not represent the true odds on finding life on the planet but the price was shortened because of the liabilities of hundreds of thousands of pounds. " We first took money for Mars life on Mars back in 1969 and would be looking at a black hole in our accounts if Beagle 2 discovers something," the spokesman told the Times.

    Colin Pillinger, professor of Planetary Sciences at the Open University and Beagle's lead scientist has not placed any bet. He feels it would be like insider trading.

    Meanwhile, Sir Patrick Moore writing in the Mirror said we would know after a few hours if there is some form of life on Mars, 34,500,000 miles away from us. There are craters, old riverbeds, canyons, valleys and volcanoes, the Olympus Mars being three times higher than the Everest.

    The scientists are agog with the expectation that signals from Beagle 2 could confirm life forms even if it was very lowly.

    http://www.hindustantimes.com/news/181_507223,0005 .htm [hindustantimes.com]
  • However... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by skinfitz (564041) on Friday December 26, 2003 @12:39AM (#7810934) Journal
    Bear in mind that they were not even sure that Jodrell Bank would be able to pick up the signal. This was only conjecture and has never been tested.

    There is a window every day now to pick up a signal via NASA's Odyssey, and if for any reason that there is a problem with comms protocols between Beagle2 and Odyssey (this was never tested due to time constraints) then Mars Express will come online on Jan 4th 2004 which does know how to talk to Beagle2.
  • Re:Suggestion: Venus (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Megor1 (621918) on Friday December 26, 2003 @12:44AM (#7810946) Homepage
    Uh Mars has an atmosphere...

    And probes have been sent to Venus in the past, guess what happens when you put a probe in sulpheric acid? It lasts about 23 minutes before being destroyed ( http://www.solarspace.co.uk/venus.htm [solarspace.co.uk])
  • Re:5 watts...Crazy (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 26, 2003 @01:04AM (#7811050)
    In the 60s (the peak era for electronics IMHO) 'they' were able to suck signals from space with a signal level of -160dBm and amplify them with a doohickey called a 'parametric amplifier', a really neat idea that consists of varying the capacity of a diode junction with a pump signal to get voltage gain. Ah, the 60s, when you could make things out of a single diode and land people on the moon with it.
    And now in 2003 we can't even equal that with billions of transistors on an IC... Sad, really.
    There isn't much on the net about parametric amplifiers sadly. Better hit the libraries and look for mouldy oldies, I have a great book with descriptions of the circuitry used for tracking Pioneer probes.
  • Re:5 watts...Crazy (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 26, 2003 @01:22AM (#7811110)
    Old tube-based receivers also tend to be quieter due to the lack of digital switching noise.
  • by Natchswing (588534) on Friday December 26, 2003 @01:56AM (#7811220)
    > would you please flip the batteries round so that the probe works? ;)

    You know my boss wouldn't find that funny at all. A few years ago he worked on a joint project between the US and the USSR - a satellite named Skipper [flatoday.com]. Russians didn't believe in testing their flight hardware, only shadow building an identical one to destructively test. Skipper's solar panels were wired reverse of the battery so every rotation of the satellite the voltage would drop significantly and never quite come back up. Within' a minute or two the craft had shorted the batteries to the point the electronics no longer functioned.

    He says it remains in its 800km orbit, mocking him every 45 minutes. According to my calculations it should only mock him every 101 minutes.

  • Re:5 watts...Crazy (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Detritus (11846) on Friday December 26, 2003 @02:25AM (#7811296) Homepage
    Parametric amps are still widely used in satellite ground stations. JPL's DSN (Deep Space Network) has even better toys, like hydrogen masers.
  • by ThoreauHD (213527) on Friday December 26, 2003 @03:19AM (#7811462)
    Another Mars probe blown out of the sky. How cool is that. Is someone trying to tell us something?

    http://yorkshireufoinfo.homestead.com/PhobosPlat fo rm.html

    http://www.planetary.org/learn/missions/marsmiss io ns.html
  • Re:5 watts...Crazy (Score:3, Interesting)

    by PinkyGigglebrain (730753) on Friday December 26, 2003 @04:01AM (#7811574)
    Voyager 1 and 2 only have about 8 watts of transmitter power.

    I remember Carl Sagan once saying something about the total amount of energy reaching the earth as radio waves from radio sources in space, including space probes, being equivilant to the energy of a single snowflake hitting the ground. Why else would radio telescopes be so fracking big?
  • Re:Suggestion: Venus (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Bendebecker (633126) on Friday December 26, 2003 @04:37AM (#7811649) Journal
    Actually, Venus is not what Earth was once like. It is what Earth could have been like. At some point in the distant past, when the condensation from volcanic activity etc collected to form Earth's oceans, Venus's water evaporated (due to the slightly higher temperature due to its closer proximity to the sun.) The CO2(i think) that remains trapped in limestone and in the oceans of earth on venus evaportaed and combined with other gases to form its super thick atmosphere. The dense clouds insulated the planet and caused the further evaporation of moisture on the planet until it was all gone. At which point Venus was trapped in a runaway greenhouse effect - dense clouds cuase high pressure, heat is kept in and absorbed from the sun, acid rain constanly falls, evaportaes immediately only to fall again. Venus is what could have been and isn't (and hopefully won't be.) Mars is a possible future.
  • by jrockway (229604) <jon-nospam@jrock.us> on Friday December 26, 2003 @07:59AM (#7811920) Homepage Journal
    Actually the area of an elipse is quick math too. Area = a*b*Pi where a is the long radius and b is the short radius, so to speak. Note that a circle's long radius and short radius are the same, hence A = r*r*Pi, A=Pi*r^2, the formula we all (should!) know. Now we can all know the more general case.

    Sorry to be a math nazi :)
  • by adrianbaugh (696007) on Friday December 26, 2003 @10:05AM (#7812114) Homepage Journal
    For one thing, it's predominantly a British probe. For another: what on earth is the connection between a space program and a war? Or are you going to bitch about everything done by every country that didn't support the war?

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