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Friday, December 19, 2003



Beagle II Separates

At 11:10 GMT the lander separated from Mars Express to begin its solo, 3M km journey, asleep. We're playing the second leg on Christmas morning. "I'm a real, real hard taskmaster because I'm going to demand that everybody comes along and witnesses that event on Christmas morning," said the Beagle II's creator, Colin Pillinger. Commenting on the recent dust storm, Prof. Pillinger said, "My information is very much that it's not going to be a big concern." The Beagle II has no propulsion system to call its own, therefore it relies on accurate positioning. After 6 days of solo flight, the next risky maneuver will take place, the decent, Christmas morning. It is planned to land on Isidis Planitia, slowed by a heat-resistant shield and parachutes, and cushioned by airbags (similar to Pathfinder).

- posted by Jim @ 19:20 EST