Aberystwyth University scientists helped spot Beagle 2 Mars lander

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Beagle 2’s discovery on Mars after over 11 years since its landing is a major development as it proved that the probe did actually manage to follow through with the landing sequence and made it to the Martian surface. Multiple teams played important roles in its discovery and one such team is from Aberystwyth University.

Dr. Laurence Tyler and Dr. Matt Gunn at the Institute of Mathematics, Physics and Computer Science at Aberystwyth University were approached by the team searching for Beagle 2 asking them to provide detailed 3D images of the area where it was believed to have landed.

Dr. Tyler provided a terrain map of the area where Beagle 2 was believed to have landed using powerful ‘Shape from Shading’ computer software developed by the University’s Space Robotics Group. The terrain map was generated using the images taken by the HiRISE camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

“The team searching for Beagle 2 were interested in knowing what the slopes of the terrain were like in that region of Mars. We were able to show them that the area where the lander was supposed to have landed was very flat”, said Dr. Tyler. He added that he was “very pleased” to hear that Beagle 2 landed successfully.

Aberystwyth University space scientist Professor Dave Barnes played a vital role in development of one of the mission’s defining features, its robotic arm, but after his untimely death Dr. Tyler and Dr. Gunn are both leading the important contribution Aberystwyth is making to ExoMars. [Related: Beagle 2: ExoMars 2018 Rover mission to carry on probe’s legacy]