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Mission: Mars Express | Experiment: HRSC

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, and the history of water on the Red Planet.
Mars Express im Orbit

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 Martian moons Phobos and Deimos as well as for atmospheric profile measurements.

One experiment on the spacecraft is the High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) operated by the German Aerospace Center (DLR), which aims at global multispectral and three-dimensional coverage of the Martian surface with a resolution of up to 10 meters per pixel.


The following European instruments are found on board Mars Express:

  • HRSC, a high-resolution stereo camera for 3D 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.

The Planetary Sciences and Remote Sensing working group at FU Berlin participates in the processing and evaluation of the HRSC image data. To date, about 80% of the Martian surface has been covered in high resolution.

HRSC Orbit Location Extractor
Mars Images & Animations


 • Funded by the Space Administration of the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) with means of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy.
 • Reference number: 50 QM 2001
 • Latest term:  Jan 01, 2020 - Nov 30, 2022