The European Space Agency's (ESA) Mars Express mission was launched by a Soyuz/Fregat rocket on 2 June 2003 at 19:45 Central European Summer Time from the Russian space centre at Baikonur, Kazakhstan. The mission supplies Scientists with important new data about the geology, mineralogy and atmosphere of Mars. The search for traces of earlier Mars life, one of the most ambitious goals of the project, provides a large challenge for the scientists.
DLR is making important contributions to Mars Express. The High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) was developed by DLR at the Institut für Planetenforschung (Institute for Planetary Research) in Berlin. The camera is mapping Mars in three dimensions in the highest-ever resolution.
Also, DLR Berlin was key in helping develop the Planetary Fourier Spectrometer (PFS) instrument. Three further experiments - MaRS, MARSIS and ASPERA - are financed by the DLR Space Agency.
|Launch:||2 June 2003, 19.45 CEST|
|Arrival in Mars orbit:||25 December 2003, 04.00 CET|
|Launch site:||Baikonur, Kasachstan|
|Ground stations:||Perth (Australia), Kourou (French Guiana)|
|Operational times:||6.5 - 7 hours per day|
|Mission Control:||European Space Operations Center (ESOC), Darmstadt|
|Nominal mission:||1 Mars year (ca. 2 Earth years ~ 687 days); because of its enormous scientific yield, ESA has extended the Mars Express mission several times, with the most recent extension lasting until the end of 2020.|
|Orbit type:||Ellipse, Final orbit: 250 km (closest approach to Mars) x 11.583 km (furthest point from Mars); Inclination 87 degrees; Orbit period 7.5 hours|
|Launch mass:||1042 kg (427 kg fuel)|
|Scientific payload:||Orbiter 116 kg, Lander 60 kg|
|Dimensions:||Orbiter 1.5 m x 1.8 m x 1.4 m; Solar arm mit 12 m width, Surface area 11.42 sq metres|
|Energy supply:||Orbiter: Solar arm: Si-cells, 660W with 1.5 AE; Energy storage 3 Li-Ion batteries, Overall capacity 64.8 Ah; Power supply 28 V; Maximum performance 450 W|
|Data communication::||X-band (7,1 GHz) and S-band (2,1 GHz). Communication: omnidirectional low-gain antenna (LGA), 4 m; directional high-gain antenna (HGA), 1.8 m; 2 di-pole antennas, both 20 m|
|Propulsion:||8 engines for orbit corrections, each can thrust 10 Newtons; 1 master engine for braking in Mars orbit, thrust 400 Newton; stabilisers|
|HRSC (High-Resolution Stereoscopic Camera)||German-led project: Study of the atmosphere, surface and gravitation|
|MaRS (Mars Radio Science Experiment)||German-led project: Study of the atmosphere, surface and gravitation|
|PFS (Planetary Fourier Spectrometer)||Italian-led project; German participation: Infrared spectrometer for the investigation of the atmosphere|
|ASPERA (Analyser of Space Plasmas and Energetic Atoms)||Swedish-led project: Analysis of the reciprocal effect of the Mars atmosphere with the interplanetary medium|
|MARSIS (Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionospheric Sounding)||Italian-led project: Investigation of the Martian soil depth and also the upper atmosphere|
|OMEGA (Observatoire pour la Minéralogie, l’Eau, les Glaces et l’Activité)||French-led project; developed for the Mars-96 mission: Infrared spectrometer for the investigation of the surface composition|
|SPICAM (Spectroscopic Investigation of the Atmosphere of Mars)||developed for the Rosetta mission: Ultraviolet spectrometer for the investigation of the atmosphere|