Paris, 06 Jan 2004
As of Wednesday 7 January 2004, and for the following three days, ESA's Mars Express orbiter will be as little as 315 kilometres above the landing area of the still-silent Beagle 2.
Since Christmas attempts to communicate with the tiny lander through NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter and radio telescopes on Earth have been unsuccessful. However, Mars Express and Beagle 2 are the only systems tested end-to-end, giving ESA more confidence of establishing contact with the lander in the coming days.
The Ultra High Frequency (UHF) receivers on Mars Express are ready to communicate with Beagle 2. On 7 January, at precisely 13:15 CET, ESA's Mars Express orbiter will be in both an ideal flight path and an ideal communication configuration, right over the Beagle 2 landing area, at about 86 degrees, allowing ground controllers at ESA's European Space Operations Centre (ESOC) in Darmstadt, Germany, to catch the slightest beep from the Martian surface.
The results of this first search attempt will be announced at a press briefing at ESA/ESOC by David Southwood, Director of Science, Rudolf Schmidt, Mars Express Project Manager, and Michael McKay, Deputy Flight Director, starting at 16:00 CET.
A videoconference will link ESOC with ESA Headquarters in Paris (France), ESA/ESTEC in Noordwijk (Netherlands) and ESA/ESRIN in Frascati (Italy).
Media representatives wishing to attend are asked to complete the attached reply form and fax it to the Communication Office at the establishment of their choice.
Press Programme and Reply Form
Event at ESA/ESOC
Robert-Bosch-Str. 5 - Darmstadt (D)
Wednesday 7 January 2004 – 15:30-17:30 CET
15:30 Opening of doors
16:00 Press briefing with David Southwood, Rudolf Schmidt, Michael McKay
17:00 Questions and answers
17:30 End of event