Mars Express is the first European mission to Mars. Since its arrival in 2003, the experiments aboard the spacecraft have provided important clues on surface geology and morphology, the subsurface, the atmosphere, the history of water and the question of life. One experiment on the spacecraft is the High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) which aims at global multispectral and three-dimensional coverage of the Martian surface with a resolution of up to 10 meters per pixel. To date, about 75% of the Martian surface has been covered in 3-D.
ESA’s space probe Mars Express was launched on June 2, 2003 by a Soyuz-Fregat rocket from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. On December 25, 2003, it entered the orbit of Mars. The orbit of Mars Express itself is elliptical with a maximum distance of 10 530 km over the Martian surface and 330 km at closest approach. This geometry allows for observations of the Mars moons Phobos and Deimos as well as for atmospheric profile measurements.
The following European instruments are found on board Mars Express:
- HRSC, a high-resolution stereo camera for 3-D color mapping of the planet’s surface,
- MARSIS; a radar altimeter to examine the planet’s subsurface structure,
- the Fourier spectrometer PFS, investigating the composition of the atmosphere,
- the hyperspectral spectrometer OMEGA, observing the planet’s mineralogy in the visible and infrared range,
- ASPERA, a device for plasma analysis and
- MaRS, a radio experiment.
Link to the mission participation of the Planetary Sciences and Remote Sensing Group.