[meteorite-list] Mars Express Leaves For Baikonur

From: Ron Baalke <baalke_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Thu Apr 22 10:23:49 2004
Message-ID: <200303191742.JAA28247_at_zagami.jpl.nasa.gov>


Mars Express leaves for Baikonur
European Space Agency
19 March 2003

Mars Express, the first European spacecraft to visit the planet Mars,
has completed its tests at Toulouse, France. After six months extensive
thermal environmental, mechanical and electric tests, the spacecraft
with the Beagle 2 lander will leave for Baikonur, Kazakhstan on 19
March 2003 onboard an Antonov 124 aircraft. It will be launched early
June 2003 onboard a Russian Soyuz-Fregat rocket.
Mars Express, Europe's first mission to a planet, was built by Astrium , the
prime contractor, with the involvement of more than twenty European
companies. Building Mars Express presented a double challenge : designing a
highly complex system within tight deadlines (to meet a fixed launch date) as
well as being as economical as possible. Mars Express has been built for half
the costs of similar, previous missions.

The industrial team responded to the challenge by using off-the-shelf
equipment and technology already developed for the Rosetta mission. New ways
of project management and more responsibility at the initial stages of the
collaboration with the European Space Agency, successfully kept the project
within the allocated time limits and budgets.
The spacecraft will benefit from an exceptionally favourable launch window
in June 2003; at this date, the distance separating the planets Earth and
Mars will be minimal, an opportunity only occurring all 17 years. From
December 2003, Mars Express will be inserted into an elliptical
quasi-polar orbit.

Seven scientific instruments on the orbiter will perform the following
tasks: global high-resolution imaging, global mineralogical mapping, global
atmospheric circulation and mapping of the atmospheric composition, radar
sounding of the subsurface structure, study of surface-atmosphere interactions,
and interaction of the atmosphere with the interplanetary environment.

Mars Express will also carry the Beagle 2 lander which will detach from the
spacecraft and land on the Martian surface. It will collect and analyse rock
and soil samples on the spot.
Received on Wed 19 Mar 2003 12:42:02 PM PST

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