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, ESAs 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 ESAs 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 ESAs Director-General Jean-Jacques Dordain, ESA’s Director of Science David Southwood and ESAs Director of Technical and Operational Support Gaele Winters. The highlights of the night will also be webcast over the internet at http://mars.esa.int.
Franco Bonacina | ESA
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