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Artist's view of Mars Express in orbit
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- Title Artist's view of Mars Express in orbit
- Released 11/02/2009 3:39 pm
- Copyright ESA - D. Ducros
Artist view of ESA's Mars Express probe.
Mars Express was launched at 17:45:46 UT, 2 June 2003, by a Soyuz FG-Fregat launcher. The Fregat upper stage then boosted the probe, consisting of the 1,223-kg orbiter carrying the 71-kg Beagle 2 lander, into a solar orbit toward Mars. Mars Express entered orbit around Mars on 26 December 2003.
Carrying seven experiments, the orbiter will conduct a one-martian-year survey of the planet in unprecedented high-resolution and provide a mineralogical map. It will also conduct a search for underground water using a radar able to identify subsurface structures up to 2 km deep. Moreover, a set of payload instruments will probe the atmosphere, map its composition and determine its circulation as well as its interaction with the solar wind.
Europe's first planetary mission, Mars Express was approved in 1997 as ESA's first 'flexible' science mission. Development was delegated to industry, with Astrium appointed as prime contractor in 1998.