ESA Signs Contract for Mars Mission
PARIS, France, June 22 -- The contract for the launch of the European Space Agency's Mars Express--Europe's first mission to Mars--has been signed by Roger Bonnet, the Director of the ESA's Scientific Programme, and Jean-Yves Le Gall, President of the Euro-Russian Starsem. Mars Express is scheduled to be launched by the Soyuz-Fregat launcher in June 2003 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
Seven instruments from space research institutes throughout Europe will make observations from the main spacecraft as it orbits the planet. These instruments include the High Resolution Stereo Colour Imager, a stereoscopic camera that will photograph the Martian surface to reveal detail as small as 1 meter; the IR Mapping Spectrometer, which will determine the mineral content of the Martian surface and the molecular composition of the atmosphere; the Atmospheric Fourier Spectrometer and the UV Atmospheric Spectrometer, both of which will analyze Mars' atmosphere; and a radio science experiment that will use radio waves to study the planet's surface and atmosphere. The spacecraft will also release a small lander that will travel on the surface to look for signs of life.
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