The European Space Agency’s Beagle 2 is approaching Mars for a landing (bouncy, but hopefully soft) on Christmas Day (will we hear “The Beagle has landed” !). Part of its mission is to look for chemical traces of life. One of the tests will be for methane in the martian atmosphere. Methane is a byproduct of life but will not last long in the Martian atmosphere, so a positive result would be interesting. Other experiments will determine C-12/C-13 ratios since a high value is indicative of life. Two NASA craft will follow on a month later.
Instructions for satellite: All live transmissions are also carried free-to-air on Astra 2C at 19 degrees East, transponder 57, horizontal, (DVB-MPEG-2), frequency 10832 MHz, Symbol Rate 22000 MS/sec, FEC 5/6. The service name is ESA.”
WebElements December 14th, 2009