28 August 2002 - Beagle 2 to land in Godalming!

The next man-made object to land on Mars will be the British-led Beagle 2 lander, to be carried by the European Space Agency's Mars Express spacecraft. After a planned launch in June 2003, Beagle 2 will land on Mars around Christmas 2003. University College London's Mullard Space Science Laboratory leads the team building the Stereo Camera System - Beagle's eyes. The laboratory, at Holmbury St Mary, is also involved in an experiment on the Mars Express Orbiter.

On Friday 30 August a full-size model of the Beagle 2 lander will be on display to the public at Godalming Museum. This sneak preview is part of the 'Hands On the Solar System' exhibition there, which also finishes that day after a successful few weeks. The Mars Day starts at 2pm with a series of talks, a chance to look at the Beagle 2 model and a competition to land a simulated payload (an egg!) onto the surface of Mars. It will be suitable for all ages.

'When Beagle 2 lands on Mars we will use our tiny on-board cameras to produce 3-dimensional images of the landing site to aid Beagle's hunt for signs of life on Mars' says Dr Andrew Coates, lead investigator for the Beagle 2 cameras. 'We will also look for traces of water, one of the key compounds for life, in the atmosphere and how the water escapes to space'. Mars has no large-scale magnetic field unlike the Earth, so the solar wind can 'scavenge' water from the top of the Mars atmosphere, and orbiter measurements will be used to study this escape.

'Building experiments for the surface of Mars is a huge challenge because of the low temperatures and atmospheric pressure at the surface' says Dr Andrew Griffiths, Beagle 2 camera project manager at MSSL. The daytime maximum temperature is expected to be around 0 degrees C and the nighttime temperature may plummet to -90 degrees, while the pressure is less than 1 percent of Earth's surface pressure.

As well as the special Mars exhibits on 30th, the exhibition will continue to highlight the other members of the solar system using interactive hands-on displays. An art competition is running every day until 30 August, and the Mars lander competition is on the 30th. Exhibition organiser Dr Chris McFee from MSSL says 'We have exceeded our wildest expectations in terms of number of visitors and bringing the solar system to Godalming has been a huge success'.

Dr Lucie Green, joint exhibition organiser, says 'The many people involved from MSSL and the museum can be justly proud of what they have achieved over the last month.'.


MSSL switchboard 01483 204100
Dr Andrew Coates Beagle 2 camera lead investigator
Dr Andrew Griffiths Beagle 2 camera project manager
Dr Chris McFee Hands On the Solar System organiser
Dr Lucie Green Hands On the Solar System organiser


1. Mars Day is on Friday August 30 at Godalming Museum. Competition to build a lander running all day


2.15 Mars, the red planet, and Beagle 2's mission Dr Andrew Coates
2.45 When will people land on Mars? Discussion with Dr Chris McFee, Dr Lucie Green, Dr Andrew Griffiths and Dr Andrew Coates
3.15 Beagle 2 model Dr Andrew Griffiths
4pm Competition judging and announcement of the winner!

Further information and tickets from the Museum, call 01483 426510.

2. Hands on the solar system is a collaboration between UCL's Mullard Space Science Laboratory (www.mssl.ucl.ac.uk) and Godalming Museum (www.godalming-museum.org.uk). It is partly funded by PPARC.

3. At 7pm on 28 August, Dr Paul Roche will talk on Impact Earth! at the Pepperpot. For tickets call 01483 426510.

4. The Beagle 2 project is led by the Open University and involves industry and academia. More information at www.beagle2.com

Last modified Wednesday, August 28, 2002 2:27 PM

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