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Christmas On Mars: Be There With ESA


Launched on 2 June 2003, after a six-month cruise at an average speed of about 10 kilometres per second and covering a distance of about 400 million kilometres, ESA’s Mars Express will arrive at Mars on Christmas Day.

After a very complicated and challenging series of operations during the night of 24/25 December 2003, the probe will be injected into an elliptical orbit near the poles of the Red Planet, while the Beagle 2 lander – released from the mother craft six days earlier – is expected to touchdown on the surface of Mars.

The exciting event can be followed at ESA’s European Space Operations Centre (ESOC) in Darmstadt, Germany, on Thursday, 25 December, from 01:30 to 14:00 , together with the mission managers, the operation teams, scientists and top ESA management, including ESA’s Director-General Jean-Jacques Dordain, ESA’s Director of Science David Southwood and ESA’s Director of Technical and Operational Support Gaele Winters. The highlights of the night will also be webcast over the internet at

As well as live streaming of key events, the Mars Express site will have daily news, features, images, videos and more.

The ESA TV Service will provide live coverage of operations, from the Operations Control Centre at ESOC. All transmission and satellite details are published online at

All live transmissions are also carried free-to-air on Astra 2C at 19 degrees East, transponder 57, horizontal, (DVB-MPEG-2), frequency 10832 MHz, Symbol Rate 22000 MS/sec, FEC 5/6. The service name is ESA.

Media wishing to attend are asked to complete the attached reply form and fax it back to ESA Media Relations Service: +33 (0)1 53 69 76 90.

Franco Bonacina | ESA
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