5. The Mars Express Mission

Mars Express, scheduled for launch in 2003, can be easily summarised as follows: ESA provides a carrier/orbiter with 120 Kg or so of scientific payload for orbital science, data rely capability. 150 kg or so of mass will be made available to surface modules to be provided by interested partners. Operations are carried out by ESOC (use of DSN support is subject to on-going negotiations), while the launcher will be the Molniya/Soyuz, similarly to Cluster II.

A recommendation of the International Mars Exploration Working Group indicates the possibility to fly some of the Mars 96 spare instruments which would otherwise be completely lost. Certainly during payload selection (see AO) preference will be given to instruments ready or almost ready to fly: on one hand this will alleviate the financial impact on the Member states, on the other it will help a fast track implementation of the mission. A strong interest has been manifested by the international scientific community for a penetrating radar which would allow us to determine the global distribution of underground water and ice deposits. The Executive is contacting potential participants and looks forward to the possibility of flying such an instrument.

As for the "surface elements" of the mission, the Executive has noticed a world wide interest for the Mars Express mission and will evaluate soon the several proposal received for the deployment of station(s) on the Martian surface. A strong constraint in the selection of the landing elements will be the financial and the technical realism of the proposals.

The launch of Mars Express is foreseen for 2003. The AO is due for December 2 1997, with responses due to the Agency by February 24.The SSWG will be in charge of the experiment selection through the appointment of an "ad hoc" committee composed of SSWG members and/or external experts not involved in the proposals. This committee will be chaired by the SSWG Chairman and assisted programmatically, technically and scientifically by ESA. Final approval of payload and mission confirmation are expected at the June 98 SPC meeting.

  • Mars Express Homepage (ESA)

    Hartmut Frommert [contact]

    [Mars] | [Spider] @ [SEDS]

    Last Modification: February 28, 1998