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SFJCody
Usual stuff. Mentions some uncertainty over the future of ExoMars (delay to 2015?).
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/20...paceexploration
jamescanvin
QUOTE
They have built at least 23 orbiting spacecraft, and have now had three successful landings.


Huh? blink.gif

tedstryk
Yeah, huh?

We have built 9 orbiters, including the failed Mariner 8, Mars Observer, and Mars Climate Orbiter. We have sent 6 landers, 5 of which succeeded. And we have sent four flyby spacecraft, including the failed Mariner 3.

The total is 19 (21 if you count the DS-2 probes), 14 of which succeeded.

TheChemist
He probably refers to "landings" considering as such the two Vikings and Phoenix.
Pathfinder and the MERs would be "throws" in his view, because of the airbag design.

I can understand his bitterness, but can't share his views...
MahFL
He does whinge a bit doesn't he ?
Greg Hullender
QUOTE
nobody has ever discovered a single atom of carbon on Mars


Really? Not from what I see elsewhere:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbonates_on_Mars

I'd have expected more attention to detail from someone who was once a PI.

--Greg
ngunn
Since we're onto opinions here (aside fom the discussion about garbled or misquoted numbers in the Guardian article) I'd like to speak up for the guy. His vision, energy and drive on the Beagle project were inspirational and the probe's instrumentation a miniature masterpiece. It was worth every bit of the effort put into it and the British government demonstrated lamentable failure of imagination by not stepping up to support (and promote) a follow-up attempt. It's not being nationalistic (or imperialist) to point out that Britain could contribute a lot more to space exploration, or to compare spacefaring with seafaring. Do we not all urge our respective governments along this path? He is a high profile ambassador for our cause, so why all the hostility?

Is he bitter? You may know this, I don't.
Juramike
QUOTE (Greg Hullender @ May 28 2008, 10:52 AM) *
Really? Not from what I see elsewhere:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbonates_on_Mars

I'd have expected more attention to detail from someone who was once a PI.

--Greg


I think he was making the distinction between "organic carbon" and "inorganic carbon". I use the term organic carbon for most larger molecules containing a C-C or C-H bond.

So, carbon dioxide, cyanide (I consider HCN inorganic, but with potential), carbon monoxide, and graphite I'd consider inorganic.

Methane, PAH's, glycine, and formic acid I'd consider organic.

Finding simple or complex organics embedded in the martian ices would be very cool (! rolleyes.gif ).

-Mike
imipak
QUOTE (ngunn @ May 28 2008, 04:15 PM) *
Is he bitter? You may know this, I don't.


I've no idea; but he does have MS, which is inclined to do things to anyone's personality.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/4671941.stm
PFK
The bit I'd take issue with from the article is his assertion that "These are big stakes. If a British mission had made this breakthrough, it would have inspired our whole country: we'd have kids wanting to take up science." It's not so much that I disagree with the sentiments per se, it's just that I don't see why the same levels of inspiration cannot be engendered through promotion of all top class UMSF results, irrespective of the nationality of the major contributors to the project. I mean good grief, if the recent picture of the descent over the Martian crater cannot be used to thrill and inspire kids towards the subject then there's something badly wrong with either our teachers or the kids (or both smile.gif ). I still have my junior school exercise book in which I wrote about how Apollo13 was in trouble. Back then kids in the UK would profess an ambition to be an astronaut when they grew up, simply because of the level of coverage of the events and because they were rightly viewed as being of global significance.
Maybe there are all sorts of other reasons for Britain to be playing more of a role - I'll leave that debate to those with more knowledge of the area. But one thing I am sure of is that if we are currently unable to use the astonishing data streaming in right now from all over the Solar system - data that is accessible at speeds, and with with an ease, unthinkable just a few years ago - to inspire kids to take up the challenges and rewards that science can offer, then just because a future mission is labelled "British" wont make a blind bit of difference.
Pavel
QUOTE (TheChemist @ May 28 2008, 09:36 AM) *
He probably refers to "landings" considering as such the two Vikings and Phoenix.
Pathfinder and the MERs would be "throws" in his view, because of the airbag design.

I think he meant three successful landings in a row, i.e. Spirit, Opportunity and Phoenix. Or maybe he meant three landings after Beagle 2. By the way, Beagle 2 had airbags too.
dvandorn
I suppose my first reaction is to ask how respected the Guardian is in terms of truth vs sensationalism. I find it hard to believe that Pillinger made some of the factual misstatements in the article. And if there are factual liberties being taken, perhaps the Guradian is taking liberties with other things, as well.

That said, assuming this piece is Pillinger's own and not a sensational re-write run under his name, I have to say that I find his overall tone not only bitter, but perilously close to plain old self-pity whining. The big message I got out of it was "It's not only a shame that my instruments have not yet landed on Mars, it's criminal that anyone would land anything except my instruments. I am the *only* person capable of answering all questions about life on Mars, and I demand to be recognized for it immediately!"

Am I overreacting? Or do any of you also take away that message from the article?

-the other Doug
Stephen
I agree with ngunn. Why all the hostility to Pillinger?

Granted Beagle 2 failed and as a result Pillinger has taken a lot of heat for it, some of it, maybe even much of it, justified.

On the other hand I can't help wondering sometimes if there isn't an element of "don't mention the war" to this. Just as nations don't like to be reminded about the wars they lost, so we space enthusiasts don't like to be reminded of the missions that failed.

As the saying goes, success has many fathers, failure is an orphan.

Everybody likes to hear about the success stories and we all like to hear from those most intimately involved reminisce about them. Conversely hardly anybody wants to hear about the failures (unless its part of some report investigating why they failed and apportioning blame to the perpetrators). Mars Observer, MCO, and MPL doubtless all once had principal investigators, but you'd never know it. Whoever they were they don't go round talking about those missions, their names are little more than footnotes in the history books (even when they're mentioned at all), and they have all doubtless long since excised the embarrassment from their CVs.

Pillinger, on the other hand, is the embarrassing exception. He can't seem to STOP talking about Beagle 2.

In some ways Pillinger strikes me as someone not unlike Steve Squyres--in the sense that he is someone who is enthusiastic about his favourite subject and who worked hard to bring his Mars mission to fruition. Had Beagle 2 succeeded he might even now be in a position akin to the one Squyres now occupies: the articulate guy everybody wants to hear tell about his mission and about its many triumphs. Instead we'd all rather he stopped reminding us of the embarrassment!

Which is unfortunate because he does at times make some valid points. For example:
The Phoenix design is based on a craft that crash-landed in 1999, and building Beagle technology into this mission simply wasn't feasible in the planning time they had. After the 1999 loss, Nasa simply shrugged their shoulders, learned their lessons, and got on with the next mission. With Beagle, the British government and the European Space Agency sighed a collective "oh dear," and stopped there.
Unfortunately, nobody seems to be listening.

======
Stephen
climber
This is a very interesting debate between ourselves with strong opposite opinions based on strong arguments.
Last words of Stephen are very powerful.
We may have in Pillinger the right EU PI we're looking for in the "other" topic
karolp
I tend to think that if MRO were in orbit while MPL/DS2 and later Beagle 2 were landing on Mars, we would have chosen the landing sites more wisely and had more uplink capability. Beagle was not a failure in itself, it was the LANDING that failed. By the way, I always wonder why we do not have any private-funded interplanetary spacecraft roaming the Solar System yet. A Beagle 3 could have been easily funded by millionaires enthusiastic about space and the first person to do that would have gained widespread recognition in future textbooks. Suborbital flights and visits to the International Space Station are becoming routine. And the cost of funding a spacecraft is comparable - one does not even have to invent everything from scratch, one could simply hire a person who has already developed an interplanetary spacecraft and build another copy to be sent somewhere else at a much smaller cost and then simply buy a launch as a company, just like one would buy a launch for a telecommunications satellite. Is it the lack of awareness or are there any limitations on private access to the Solar System?
tedstryk
It has nothing to do with hostility. It has to do with numbers that are impossible to duplicate. Not only are they innacurate, it is impossible to understand where he got things like 23 orbiters.
Phil Stooke
"Is it the lack of awareness or are there any limitations on private access to the Solar System?"

Good question. The best answer is probably to follow the Google Lunar X Prize, and the earlier attempts to privatize lunar exploration (Lunacorp, Applied Space Resources, Transorbital, BlastOff! etc.) It's a lot harder than you think, and a lot more expensive than you think. There's no guarantee of success and no likelihood of a return on investment.

You can't find someone who designed a planetary spacecraft before and hire them. These spacecraft are designed by large teams of engineers, the best in the world, in world-class facilities. And they already have jobs! Believe me, some of the GLXP people are finding this out now.

Phil
Juramike
QUOTE (Phil Stooke @ May 29 2008, 10:24 AM) *
It's a lot harder than you think, and a lot more expensive than you think. There's no guarantee of success and no likelihood of a return on investment.


Yeah...The Planetary Society's Cosmos Solar Sail attempt is another example.

That was a mild bummer that splashed some of my (and a lot of other peoples) personal buckage into the Arctic Sea. It stung but I'd donate again in a heartbeat.

(I'm kicking in and will continue to kick in for Cosmos2)

Could private donations alone support two missions? Two partially funded missions? Tough questions.

If there was a reasonable chance of success (mission and eventually being able to raise enough money to get it to fly), I'd personally kick in for Beagle 2. How many others feel the same way?

-Mike
djellison
I'd want to see a different engineering philosophy for a Beagle 2.1 I'm sure that it could be done within the volume and mass budget that B2 had, but it would be a whole lot easier at the 100kg-all-up level. That, I would put money into.

Doug
hendric
I'd donate again for Cosmos X as well. But for a Beagle 3? I dunno. I just don't get good vibes coming from Colin P. If he was a little more humble pre-EDL, and more accepting of blame post-EDL, maybe.
djellison
The instrumentation is good - to be honest I'd back any means to reliably get it to the surface.

Doug
PaulM
QUOTE (djellison @ May 29 2008, 04:41 PM) *
I'd want to see a different engineering philosophy for a Beagle 2.1 I'm sure that it could be done within the volume and mass budget that B2 had, but it would be a whole lot easier at the 100kg-all-up level. That, I would put money into.

Doug


I had the great privilege of working with some of the Beagle 2 hardware designers between Beagle 2's launch and landing on Mars. They were some of the best engineers that I have every worked with.

I told one of these engineers that Spirit would send out beeps of varying frequencies during EDL and that each of these beeps would indicate what state Spirit was in. For example one frequency might indicate that the parachute had been deployed and another that the airbags had inflated. The engineer told me that due to weight restrictions Beagle 2 could transmit no telemetry during EDL.

I mentioned to the engineer that the report on the loss of the Mars Polar Lander (MPL) had said that whilst the lack of telemetry during EDL was irelevant to whether MPL worked or not it was important in getting MPL's sucessors down safely to Mars. The engineer told me that the reports recommendation that telemetry be transmitted during EDL had been mentioned at a Beagle 2 meeting but that weight restrictions had simply made this impossible. In any case there was no possibility of another 25 million being found for Beagle 3.

I think that the weight restrictions that led to both a lack of telemetry and a lack of stronger airbags was Beagle 2's greatest weakness. I think that if telemetry been available which had proved that Beagle 2's airbags had burst on landing then ESA would have had the confidence to launch Beagle 3 with stronger airbags, perhaps as part of the now cancelled Net Lander mission.

I think that MPL would also have been reflown earlier than this year if telemetry had made it more clear exactly what had gone wrong in 1999.

Does anyone know whether Odyssey or MRO was able to collect meaningful telemetry from Phoenix during EDL or did they fail to collect meaningful data much as Mars Express did?
djellison
QUOTE (PaulM @ May 29 2008, 07:14 PM) *
Does anyone know whether Odyssey or MRO was able to collect meaningful telemetry from Phoenix during EDL or did they fail to collect meaningful data much as Mars Express did?


All three of them recorded 8k and 32kbps data all the way down to the ground.

Doug
ElkGroveDan
Let's be careful here and stick to science and engineering.
djellison
This threads going the wrong way. It's getting into political territory, personality attacks etc. Not at UMSF. Some posts deleted, thread closed.
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