The Beagle 2 environmental sensors: science goals and instrument description

Towner, M.C.; Patel, M.R.; Ringrose, T.J.; Zarnecki, J.C.; Pullan, D.; Sims, M.R.; Haapanala, S.; Harri, A-.M.; Polkko, J.; Wilson, C.F.; Zent, A.P.; Quinn, R.C.; Grunthaner, F.J.; Hecht, M.H. and Garry, J.R.C. (2004). The Beagle 2 environmental sensors: science goals and instrument description. Planetary and Space Science, 52(13) pp. 1141–1156.



A suite of instruments on the Beagle 2 Mars lander was designed and built in order to investigate the environmental conditions at the landing site. The sensor suite was capable of measuring air temperature at two heights, surface level pressure, wind speed and direction, saltated particle momentum, UV flux (diffuse and direct at five wavelengths), the total accumulated radiation dose and investigating the nature of the oxidising environment. The scientific goals of the instruments are discussed within the context of current understanding of the environmental conditions on Mars, and the instruments themselves are described in detail. Beagle 2 landed on Mars in late 2003, as part of the ESA Mars Express mission. The expected lifetime of the lander on the surface was 180 sols, with a landing site in Isidis Planitia, but has not responded to attempts to contact it, and has now been declared lost. The Environmental Sensor Suite (ESS) was intended to monitor and characterise the current local meteorological parameters, investigating specific areas of scientific interest raised from previous missions, most notably dust transport and transient phenomena, and additionally to add context to the conditions that any possible martian micro-organisms would have to face. The design of the instrument suite was strongly influenced by mass limitations, with eight sensor subsystems having a total mass of approximately 100 g. Although Beagle 2 has been now declared lost, the scientific goals of an Environmental Sensors Suite still remain a valid target for any future astrobiology orientated missions.

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