2 - A Mission to Mars
inside story of a British-led space mission
2 & Tuesday 3 June, 11.20pm, BBC TWO
inside story of Britain's most ambitious space mission to
land on Mars and search for signs of life there is told in
Beagle 2: A Mission to Mars, a film five years in the making.
Open University programmes for BBC TWO include exclusive
behind-the-scenes footage of a space mission as they tell
the story of how one man's burning curiosity to discover if that
evidence exists inspired one of the most remarkable science projects
reveal the trials and tribulations that the British-led Beagle 2
team - headed by lead scientist Professor Colin Pillinger
of the Open University - face as they strive to advance science
and develop the ground-breaking technology that will enable them
to realise their mission.
one is to be shown on the date scheduled for the launch from
Baikanour in Kazakhstan of Beagle 2 and Mars Express, the
European Space Agency craft on which it will be hitching its 250
million-mile ride to the Red Planet.
by actor Keith Allen, the programmes trail the Beagle 2 team
as they plan, design and raise funds for the ambitious mission.
see how the scientists and engineers are faced with problem after
problem and how they overcame them.
they must persuade the European Space Agency to permit Beagle 2
to hitch a lift on the agency's Mars Express no simple task,
given the unusual nature of the mission's development.
the team must work to raise the profile of the mission in the eyes
of potential financial backers and must attract Government
along, the scientists and engineers know they must also ensure the
public is behind them and be sure that the mission remains in the
Damien Hirst agrees to produce Beagle 2's colour calibration
chart for the lander's cameras and Blur agree to write the
identification call-sign that the lander will use as it arrives
mission is never far from the headlines.
that's all in addition to the vital work on the lander itself
where laboratories full of state-of-the-art equipment have to be
reduced to the size of a garden barbecue that weighs no more than
its minimised equipment has to be constructed in a completely sterile
environment, so that researchers can be sure that Beagle 2 is not
flying signs of life from Earth to Mars.
specially-designed aseptic assembly facility at the Open University's
headquarters in Milton Keynes is built for the final stages of construction.
team, which also includes mission manager Dr Mark Sims, of the University
of Leicester, and engineering manager Jim Clemmet of Astrium, are
unfailing in their determination and dedication to the project.
programmes track progress as work and testing continue on a range
of Beagle 2's instruments, including the self-propelled mole that
will burrow under the planet's surface; a gas analysis package;
and the systems that will land Beagle 2 safely on Mars after it
leaves the Mars Express craft.
are testing times too as the lander's parachute and gas-filled bags
that will cushion Beagle 2's landing are trialled. Revised
designs for the parachute have to be drawn up.
the countdown to launch continues, the lander's final build begins
at Milton Keynes.
2: A Mission to Mars is a Circlevision production (produced and
directed by John Macnish) for BBC TWO, made for the Open University.
The executive producer is Steve Wilkinson.
linked to the programmes are downloadable from the Open University
media relations image bank -
2 images are downloadable from the project website -
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