No contact has been made with the Beagle 2 lander, despite repeated
efforts over the last few days to communicate via the Mars Express and
Mars Odyssey spacecraft and the Jodrell Bank radio telescope in
Cheshire, UK.

At a press briefing in London this afternoon, members of the Beagle 2
team described the latest efforts to contact their missing lander.

“We haven’t found Beagle 2, despite three days of intensive
searching,” said Professor Colin Pillinger, lead scientist for Beagle
2. “Under those circumstances, we have to begin to accept that, if
Beagle 2 is on the Martian surface, it is not active.

“That isn’t to say that we are going to give up on Beagle. There is
one more thing that we can do – however, it is very much a last resort.
We will be asking the American Odyssey spacecraft (team) tomorrow
whether they will send an embedded command – a hail to Beagle with a
command inside it. If it gets through, it will tell Beagle to switch off
and reload the software. We are now working on the basis that there is a
corrupt system and the only way we might resurrect is to send that

“We can also ask Mars Express to send that command. However, they
cannot send it probably until the 2 or 3 February,” he added.

“We’ll move with the next phase in the search for Beagle 2,” said
Professor Pillinger. “We have discussed on our side of the house what
we intend to do in the future. We are dedicated to trying to refly
Beagle 2 in some shape or form, therefore we need to know how far it got
because we need know which parts of this mission we don’t have to
study in further detail.”

Detailing the efforts to contact Beagle 2 in recent days, Mark Sims,
Beagle 2 Mission Manager from the University of Leicester, explained
that the lander should have entered an emergency communication mode
known as CSM2 no later than 22 January. In this mode, the spacecraft’s
receiver is switched on throughout daylight hours on Mars. The only
possible explanation that no communication has been established during
the last few days is that the lander’s battery is in a low state of

Meanwhile, the academia-industry “Tiger Team” at the National Space
Centre in Leicester is beginning to concentrate on detailed analysis of
the possible causes for failure of the mission and the lessons that can
be learned for future missions.

The analysis of the mission now under way includes an assessment of the
landing site ellipse from orbital images, reanalysis of atmospheric
conditions during the entry into the Martian atmosphere on 25 December,
examination of the separation from Mars Express and of the cruise phase
preceding arrival at Mars.

One extremely useful piece of evidence could be provided by an image of
the lander. The team is hoping that the High Resolution Stereo Camera on
Mars Express or the camera on board Mars Global Surveyor may eventually
be able to capture an image that reveals its location on the Martian


Peter Barratt
Mobile: 0787-9602899

Gill Ormrod
Tel: 01793-442012
Mobile: 0781 8013509

Julia Maddock
Tel: 01793-442094

For further details on Mars Express and Beagle 2 see the following