Study the Martian atmosphere and climate, the planet's structure, its mineralogy and its geology, and to search for traces of water from orbit. Mars Express also carried Britain’s unsuccessful Beagle 2 lander.
- Sent back thousands of dramatic, 3D views of the Martian surface from the spacecraft’s high-resolution camera
- Discovered hydrated minerals that form only in the presence of liquid water, providing confirmation that Mars was once much wetter than it is today
- Detected subsurface layers of water ice, using the first radar sounder ever to orbit another planet
- Identified enough water ice in the polar caps to create a global ocean 36 feet (11 meters) deep, and revealed vast plains of permafrost around the south pole
Mars Express found the highest clouds ever seen above any planetary surface at an altitude of 62 miles (100 kilometers). The mission found indications of the possible presence of methane, which on Earth is attributed to active volcanism and biochemical processes.
Its highly elliptical orbit has enabled the spacecraft to look beyond Mars, to survey its two tiny moons – in particular studying the innermost satellite, Phobos, in unprecedented detail.
June 2, 2003: Launch
Dec 19, 2003: Beagle 2 Lander Release (Unsuccessful)
Dec. 25, 2003: Mars Orbit Insertion
Launch Vehicle: Soyuz-Fregat
Spacecraft Mass: 2,696 pounds (1,223 kilograms) at launch
- High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC)
- Energetic Neutron Atoms Analyser (ASPERA)
- Planetary Fourier Spectrometer (PFS)
- Visible and Infrared Mineralogical Mapping Spectrometer (OMEGA)
- Sub-Surface Sounding Radar Altimeter (MARSIS)
- The Radio Science Experiment (MaRS)
- Ultraviolet and Infrared Mars Atmospheric Spectrometer (SPICAM)
- Lander (Beagle 2)