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Beagle 2 team wins international award for successful landing

Press Release From: University of Leicester
Posted: Monday, July 27, 2015

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The Beagle 2 team is pleased to announce that the combined Beagle 2 industrial and academic team has won the 2015 Sir Arthur Clarke Award for Industry/Project Team.

The Beagle 2 Mars Lander, thought lost since 2003, was identified partially deployed on the surface of Mars earlier this year by images taken by the HiRISE camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO).

The Sir Arthur Clarke Award was presented at the UK Space Conference held in Liverpool on 14 and 15 July 2015. The award 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.”

The Industry/Project Team award is made for significant or outstanding achievements by a team, in all space activities. This includes any activity by a commercial or government organisation that designs, manufactures, supplies or operates space systems, equipment or hardware, or supports and promotes the space industry.

As cited in the award announcement: “Beagle 2 was found on the Martian surface in January 2015, 11 years after being assumed lost, proving that the original calculations and engineering were spot on after all. This mission was only one, or possibly two solar panels away from being an outstanding success.

"Images from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter HiRISE camera show that Beagle 2 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 make up the Beagle 2 Entry, Descent & Landing System were 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). Other funding partners included the European Space Agency (ESA), the Office of Science and Technology of the Department of Trade and Industry, the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council (PPARC), the Wellcome Trust, the National Space Centre and the Millennium Commission.

The Beagle 2 team consisted of many organisations and individuals and it is impossible to name all involved however a list of key organisations is given in background material below.

A session on the Beagle 2 discovery and small landers and their uses was held at the UK Space Conference on the morning of the 14 July.

More information is available at: http://www.bis-space.com/2015/07/17/14936/winners-of-the-sir-arthur-clarke-awards-2015

The presentations from the Beagle 2 session at the UK Space Conference are available at: http://www.ukspace2015.co.uk/presentations

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