Mission Type: Orbiter
Launch Vehicle: Soyuz-Fregat
Launch Site: Baikonur, Kazakstan
Spacecraft Mass: 439 kg
1) High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC)
2) Energetic Neutron Atoms Analyser (ASPERA)
3) Planetary Fourier Spectrometer (PFS)
4) Visible and Infrared Mineralogical Mapping Spectrometer (OMEGA)
5) Sub-Surface Sounding Radar Altimeter (MARSIS)
6) The Radio Science Experiment (MaRS)
7) Ultraviolet and Infrared Mars Atmospheric Spectrometer (SPICAM)
8) Lander (Beagle 2)
Spacecraft Dimensions: 1.5 by 1.8 by 1.4 m
Spacecraft Power: Solar Panels and Lithium batteries
Maximum Power: 500 W
European Space Agency's Mars Express Homepage, http://sci.esa.int/science-e/www/area/index.cfm?fareaid=9
Mars Express, launched in June 2003, with the following science goals:
- Search for subsurface water
- Global high-resolution photogeology and mineralogical mapping
- Analysis of atmospheric composition and circulation
- Deployment of geochemistry and exobiology lander, Beagle 2, onto the surface
- Communications relay
This spacecraft has been orbiting the Red Planet since the end of 2003, and has made many discoveries.
Mars Express, the first European mission to Mars, has taken breathtaking, high-resolution images of the surface in 3D and in colour. The spacecraft carries the first radar instrument ever flown to Mars, which has returned pioneering sub-surface sounding measurements that show underground water-ice deposits.
It has beamed back mineralogical evidence for the presence of liquid water throughout Martian history and studied the density of the Martian crust in detail. It was also the first spacecraft to detect methane in the planet's atmosphere from orbit.
The spacecraft pioneered the detection of aurorae at mid latitudes, provided estimates on the rate at which Mars' atmosphere escapes into space. Mars Express studied the Martian moon Phobos at close quarters as well.
The mission has been extended twice in the past, the second extension lasting until May 2009. This third extension will make it possible to continue with the mission's extensive study of the Red Planet which includes, amongst others: the study of its subsurface, the observation of the upper atmospheric layers under varying solar conditions, the observation of methane in the atmosphere, and high resolution mapping of its surface.