ESA PR 59-2002 See Mars Express before its departure to the Red Planet
05 September 2002Mars Express, to be launched in May-June 2003 on its six-month journey to Mars, is presently being put through a test campaign at INTESPACE, Toulouse, France. The spacecraft, which will be undertaking Europe's first mission to the Red Planet, is to be presented at a special press event being held in Toulouse on 18 September.
Media representatives are invited to INTESPACE on Wednesday 18 September to learn about the mission and attend a ceremony at which a container filled with Ferrari's distinctive 'Rosso Corsa' red paint will be integrated with the spacecraft. Mr Antonio Rodot` (ESA Director General), Professor David Southwood (ESA Director of Science), senior representatives of the space industry and a representative from Ferrari will be giving presentations. Together with the ESA Mars Express project manager and project scientist, they will be available for interviews.
Representatives of the media wishing to attend this media day at INTESPACE on Wednesday 18 September are kindly requested to complete the accreditation form in this Press Release.
Notes for Editors:
1. On 18 September at INTESPACE, Toulouse, ESA will integrate a sample of Ferrari's 'Rosso Corsa' red paint with the Mars Express spacecraft. This event is part of a new ESA communication policy aimed mainly at the general public.
Ferrari have much to celebrate: the outstanding success of the Scuderia Ferrari, winning their fourth consecutive Formula One constructors' championship and Michael Schumacher his fifth Formula One drivers' championship. Responding to an ESA proposal, Ferrari have agreed to send the symbol of their winning formula on the ESA mission to the Red Planet. When Mars Express blasts into orbit next summer at 10 800 kilometres per hour, it will be the fastest that Ferrari's distinctive red paint has ever travelled.
Following successful completion of a series of rigorous tests, the Ferrari red paint sample will be officially certified 'space qualified' at a ceremony at INTESPACE. Housed in a specially constructed glass globe known as FRED, it will then be formally integrated with the Mars Express craft.
2. The main objective of the Mars Express mission is to detect the presence of water below the surface of Mars. This could be in the form of underground rivers, pools, permafrost, or aquifers (subsurface rock formations concealing water). During its one Martian year (687 Earth days) of operations, Mars Express will view the entire surface of the Red Planet with a range of instruments. Before it goes into orbit around Mars, the spacecraft's first task is to eject the Beagle 2 lander onto the surface, where it will carry out detailed rock and soil analysis. In addition to Beagle 2, Mars Express will carry seven scientific instruments, designed specifically to gather new information on the Martian atmosphere, the planet's structure and its geology. Mars Express will set off from the Baikonur launch pad in Kazakhstan, on a Russian Soyuz-Fregat launcher, arriving at Mars by Christmas 2003.
For further information
ESA Communications Department