The European planetary probe has been orbiting Mars for 20 years. She provided valuable data – Space – Science and technology

20 years ago, on June 2, 2003, the European Space Agency (ESA) became heavily involved in Mars research. The Russian Soyuz rocket launched its Mars Express satellite, which became ESA’s first planetary probe, from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Despite the partial failure, which was the failed launch of the Beagle 2 lander, the mission is evaluated very positively.

, 06.06.2023 06:00

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Images from the Mars Express probe in March 2011 captured deep fissures around a large impact basin on the red planet’s surface. In places, up to 500 meters are cut into the crust of Mars. The picture shows two views from an oblique perspective, compiled by a computer based on a real picture.

The Mars Express probe was launched into orbit on December 25, 2003, and has since provided a wealth of valuable data. In January 2004, for example, it confirmed the presence of water on the surface of Mars. At the South Pole, she identified vapors of water molecules from ice and thus obtained the first ever direct evidence of its existence on the red planet.

In March of the same year, data from the special Fourier planetary spectrometer of the Mars Express probe confirmed the presence of methane in the atmosphere of Mars, which, according to scientists, could mean that life currently exists on the fourth planet of our solar system.

In September 2020, the European Space Agency (ESA) announced that its Mars Express probe had discovered several lakes of liquid water, which appear to be salty, under the ice sheet in the south polar region of the red planet.

The Beagle 2 “mini-laboratory” designed to search for signs of life on Mars separated from its mother satellite Mars Express into space on December 19, 2003. After six days on a parachute, it was supposed to land on the planet, but it has not been heard from since its descent into the planet’s atmosphere. It was only ten years later that the missing Beagle 2 module was located on images from the American Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter satellite. According to scientists, his solar panels did not open after landing and therefore he cannot communicate.

The success of this probe project led to the creation of the sister project Venus Express, which has the task of exploring the planet Venus from orbit.

Source: Pravda – Veda a technika by

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