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Re: Rosetta space mission compromised by Green technology

On this subject of space missions being compromised by Green technology, there was a news story today about a NASA satellite orbiting Mars managing to locate the ill-fated British space probe "Beagle 2" on the surface of Mars. Beagle 2, which was designed to look for signs of life on Mars, landed in December 2003, and was assumed to have been effectively destroyed in the landing operation (as I remember it, the man in charge of Beagle 2, the late Colin Pillinger, claimed they had been caught out by a 'Martian heatwave' making the atmospheric conditions a bit different from what had been designed for).


It turns out that the probe did land in an intact state rather than being destroyed, and landed within 5 km of the centre of its target location, but it appears that it failed half-way through the operation of unfolding its arrangement of disk-mounted solar panels, possibly due to the discs being excessively deformed by the landing. The solar panel arrangement had to unfold completely before it could contact Earth, and it was then going to send a signal to Earth composed by British pop group Blur as I remember it. Basically, as far as I can see, the mission seems to have failed because the probe was designed to use solar power - if it had been using a robust and reliable power source like an RTG, the mission would probably have been a success.

If the Green lobby had never existed, then in my opinion RTGs would probably be used routinely to power spacecraft that are designed to land on planets, moons, comets, etc. But due to the influence of this lobby, solar power has to be the first choice for these landing missions, with RTGs only allowed in unusual situations that have to be justified.