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Get Ready for Mars
Get Ready for Mars
6 Nov 2003
(Source: European Space Agency)

Paris, 6 November 2003
European Space Agency Press Release
N? 74-2003

Are you ready for Mars?
Main media events surrounding the arrival of ESA's Mars Express at Mars

ESA's Mars Express probe is scheduled to arrive at Mars at Christmas: the Beagle 2 lander is expected to touch down on the surface of the Red Planet on the night of 24 to 25 December.

Launched on 2 June 2003 from Baikonur (Kazakhstan) on board a Russian Soyuz launcher operated by Starsem, the European probe - built for ESA by a European team of industrial companies led by Astrium - carries seven scientific instruments that will perform a series of remote-sensing experiments designed to shed new light on the Martian atmosphere, the planet's structure and its geology. In particular, the British-made Beagle2 lander, named after the ship on which Charles Darwin explored uncharted areas of the Earth in 1830, will contribute to the search for traces of life on Mars through exobiology experiments and geochemistry research.

On Christmas Eve the Mars Express orbiter will be steered on a course taking it into an elliptical orbit, where it will safely circle the planet for a minimum of almost 2 Earth years. The Beagle 2 lander - which will have been released from the mother craft a few days earlier (on 19 December) - instead will stay on a collision course with the planet. It too should also be safe, being designed for atmospheric entry and geared for a final soft landing due to a sophisticated system of parachutes and airbags.

On arrival, the Mars Express mission control team will report on the outcome of the spacecraft's delicate orbital insertion manoeuvre. It will take some time for Mars Express to manouvre into position to pick communications from Beagle 2. Hence, initially, other means will be used to check that Beagle 2 has landed: first signals from the Beagle 2 landing are expected to be available throughout Christmas Day, either through pick-up and relay of Beagle 2 radio signals by NASA's Mars Odyssey, or by direct pick-up by the Jodrell Bank radio telescope in the UK.

Mars Express will then pass over Beagle 2 in early January 2004, relaying data and images back to Earth. The first images from the cameras of Beagle 2 and Mars Express are expected to be available between the end of the year and the beginning of January 2004.

The key dates relating to the arrival of Mars Express at its destination will be marked by several media events not to be missed. Pencil them into your diaries so as not to miss one of the most exciting events of the year.

Tuesday 11 November
Mars Express/Beagle 2 Media briefing
Royal Society- 6-9 Carlton House Terrace, London 10:00 - 13:00
Status report on the mission
Technical details on forthcoming Mars Express/Beagle 2 operations
News handling arrangements around Christmas
Speakers: Prof. David Southwood, ESA Director of Science; Prof. Colin Pillinger, Beagle 2 Lander Lead Scientist; John Reddy, ESA Mars Express Principal Electrical Systems Engineer.

Contact: Peter Barratt, PPARC
Tel. + 44 (0) 1793 44 20 25

Wednesday 3 December
ESA Media briefing
ESA/ ESOC, Darmstadt, Germany
10:30 - 12:30
Scientific outlook and expected results
Status report on the mission
Presentation of upcoming events
Speakers: Rudolf Schmidt, ESA Mars Express Project Manager; Augustin Chicarro, ESA Mars Express Project Scientist. In addition, Mars Express scientists and Mission Control Managers will highlight their contribution to the Mars Express mission.

In videoconference with ESA/Headquarters, Paris (F); ESA/ESTEC, Noordwijk (NL), ESA/ESRIN, Frascati (I).

Contact: Jocelyne Landeau Constantin, ESA/ESOC
Tel. + 49 6151 90 26 96

Friday 19 December
Mars Express Orbiter/ Beagle 2 separation
Mission Control Managers announce results of Beagle 2 separation from the mother craft.
a.Event at ESA/ESOC, Darmstadt , Germany
08:30 - 14:00
Speakers: Prof. David Southwood, ESA Director of Science; Rudolf Schmidt, ESA Mars Express Project Manager

Contact: Jocelyne Landeau Constantin, ESA/ESOC
Tel. + 49 6151 90 26 96

b.Event in London -location and time t.b.c.
Speaker: Prof. Colin Pillinger, Beagle 2 Lander Lead Scientist.

Contact: Peter Barratt, PPARC
Tel. + 44 (0) 1793 44 20 25

Thursday 25 December
Christmas on Mars
a.Media event at ESA/ ESOC, Darmstadt, Germany 03:00 - 07:00
Mars Express orbit insertion follow-up and Beagle 2 landing- Experience the accomplishment of one of the most exciting phases of the Mars Express mission in real time in the presence of Mission Control Managers and Scientists.
08:30 - 10:00
Christmas media brunch- Announcement of Mars orbit insertion results and Beagle 2 landing, with the participation of Prof. David Sourthwood, ESA Director of Science.

Contact: Jocelyne Landeau Constantin, ESA/ESOC
Tel. + 49 6151 90 26 96

b.Event in central London ? location and time t.b.c.

Contact: Peter Barratt, PPARC
Tel. + 44 (0) 1793 44 20 25

Note to Editors: Timeline of expected main mission events

16 December
All day
Fine targeting of Mars Express to point at landing site - ranging

19 December
06:51 GMT/07:51 CET
Decision to release Beagle 2
08:41 GMT/09:41 CET
Eject command sent to Mars Express
10:15 GMT/11:15 CET
First results of release available

20 December
Re-targeting of Mars Express on an orbital insertion course

23 December
Update on Mars Express Orbital Insertion Sequence

24 December
Final decision to steer Mars Express into a Martian orbit

25 December
02:45 GMT/03:45 CET
Beagle 2 landing on Mars

03:00 GMT/04:00 CET
Mars Express Orbital Insertion

05:15 GMT/06:15 CET
Mars Odyssey orbiter flight over Beagle 2

07:00 GMT/08:00 CET
First evaluation of Mars Express orbital insertion

22:45 GMT/23:45 CET
Possible direct capture of Beagle 2 signals at Jodrell Bank (UK)

For further information:
ESA Media Relations Division, Paris
Tel.: + 33 1 5369 7155

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Last Updated: 7 Nov 2003