使用社交账号登陆

当前位置: 主页 > 多媒体 > 播客

Long-Lost Lander Found on Mars

时间: 2015年01月27日 | 作者: | 来源: 科学美国人

Christmas 2003 was bittersweet for Mars scientists. Because one gift they desperately wanted never arrived: The British-built spacecraft Beagle 2 was scheduled to land on the Red Planet, radio home the good news and begin a search for life. Instead, mission controllers heard nothing. They finally declared the Beagle 2 lost after months of silence. Many space scientists thought it crash-landed or broke up in the thin Martian atmosphere.

 
But now Beagle 2’s final resting place has been found. New images from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter revealed the spacecraft in its intended landing region, a massive impact basin near the Martian equator. 
 
The two-meter-wide lander is little more than a low-resolution lump of pixels in the images. But investigators gathered enough information to piece together what probably went wrong: the probe’s solar panels seem to have only partially deployed, throttling Beagle 2’s power and preventing it from phoning home. Without contact with mission control, the probe was doomed to a slow demise before it could perform any science. 
 
Nevertheless, the lander appears intact, and the remains of a parachute and an atmospheric-entry cover lie hundreds of meters away. Beagle 2 may now be considered a partial success, delivering the United Kingdom a very late Christmas gift: the nation’s first soft landing on another planet. 
 
—Lee Billings 
 
[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.]