Although astronomy and space science is quite well regarded by the public, and has a considerable presence in the mass media,there are not many academic studies of how it is portrayed. Here we present a preliminary study of the UK newspaper coverage of two space missions,one a failure and one successful – the Beagle 2 mission to Mars and the Huygens mission to Saturn 's largest moon Titan – which arrived at their destinations almost exactly a year apart. Press coverage of  the Beagle 2 failure,in December 2003,over lapped that of the Huygens success in January 2005. There were reports of tension and concern, and the need for a success to make up for the failure . But by and large the tone was universally positive . We also look at how scientists involved with science as research and events have to make comments on the hoof, without waiting for peer review , and how then the media (and the public ?) treat these. Our conclusion is that journalists and their readers have a more sophisticated under standing of science - in - the - making than is often supposed.

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Atale of two missions
UK newspaper reporting of the beagle 2 and cassini/huygen sspacemissions

Blanka Jergovic   University of Zagreb, Croatia

Asha Kehar   University College London, U.K

Steve Miller   University College London, U.K

Although astronomy and space science is quite well regarded by the public, and has a considerable presence in the mass media,there are not many academic studies of how it is portrayed. Here we present a preliminary study of the UK newspaper coverage of two space missions,one a failure and one successful – the Beagle 2 mission to Mars and the Huygens mission to Saturn 's largest moon Titan – which arrived at their destinations almost exactly a year apart. Press coverage of  the Beagle 2 failure,in December 2003,over lapped that of the Huygens success in January 2005. There were reports of tension and concern, and the need for a success to make up for the failure . But by and large the tone was universally positive . We also look at how scientists involved with science as research and events have to make comments on the hoof, without waiting for peer review , and how then the media (and the public ?) treat these. Our conclusion is that journalists and their readers have a more sophisticated under standing of science - in - the - making than is often supposed.

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