Beagle 2 Landing Site
12 December 2003Beagle 2 is due to separate from the Mars Express orbiter on 19 December. Six days later, 25 December 2003, it will land on the surface of Mars and begin a series of experiments.
Beagle 2 will land on Isidis Planitia, a large, flat sedimentary basin of impact origin straddling the relatively young northern plains and ancient southern highlands, where traces of life could have been preserved. The landing site (11.6° N, 90.75° E) is at low latitude to minimise the amount of thermal protection (and hence mass) needed to protect the lander from the cold Martian night.
The site is not too rocky to threaten a safe landing (but rocky enough to be interesting for the experiments), has few steep slopes down which the probe may have to bounce as it lands, and is not too dusty. Isidis Planitia is at a low enough elevation to provide sufficient depth of atmosphere to allow the parachutes to brake the lander's descent.
As soon as the lander has come to a halt, the gas-filled bags will be released and the outer casing will open to reveal the inner workings. First, solar panels will unfold: they will catch sunlight to charge the batteries which will power the lander and its experiments throughout the mission. Next, a robotic arm will spring to life. Attached to the end of the arm will be Beagle's PAW (Position Adjustable Workbench) where most of the experiments are situated. The PAW's first job will be to move around so that the cameras can take in the view.
You now can explore the terrain features of the Beagle 2 landing site by means of the Keyhole NV application. Clicking the link on this page will open a new window and take you directly to the application website. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and select "Try it First" to download a trial version of the software. Once you have done this select "Images and Placemarks" from under the ESA logo to download the specific Beagle 2 landing site files.