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  • Beagle 2 Success Acknowledged with Award
    Image of Beagle 2 Lander on Mars credit:HiRISE/NASA/Leicester

Beagle 2 Success Acknowledged with Award

Aug 17 2015 Read 524 Times

The 2015 Sir Arthur Clarke Award for Industry/Project Team has been awarded to the combined Beagle 2 industrial and academic team since the earlier sighting this year of the Beagle 2 Mars Lander. Assumed lost since 2003, images taken by the HiRISE camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) confirmed identity of the Lander on the surface of the planet.

The Award, presented at the UK Space Conference held in Liverpool on 14 and 15 July, 2015, was received on behalf of the whole Beagle 2 team by Professor Mark Sims (formerly Beagle 2 Mission Manager) of the University of Leicester and Dr Jim Clemmet (former Beagle 2 Chief Engineer, now retired) of Airbus Space and Defence at the UK Space Conference dinner on 14 July.

Professor Mark Sims said: “It was a great pleasure to accept the award with Jim Clemmet on behalf of the whole Beagle 2 team. It is a great pity that Colin Pillinger who lead the Beagle 2 project, George Fraser and Dave Barnes who all sadly passed last year are not here to see the award which recognises the extraordinary efforts made by the whole team, industry and academia to design, build, test and deliver Beagle 2 to the surface of Mars.”

According to the award announcement the images showed that Beagle 2 had successfully landed in its intended landing ellipse on the surface of Mars on Christmas Day 2003 and began deploying its solar panels but only two, or perhaps three, of the four panels opened thus preventing the probe from communicating with Earth. The entry shield, parachutes, air bags and ancillary equipment and software that made up the Beagle 2 Entry, Descent & Landing System were said to be a triumph of engineering, constrained by weight, development time and funding as well as the unforgiving Martian environment that had foiled half of all previous attempts to land there.

Beagle 2 was the UK’s first mission to another planet. The project was a partnership between The Open University, the University of Leicester and EADS Astrium (UK) (now Airbus Defence and Space) along with other funding partners.

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