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 be also webcast over the internet . 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 2 C 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. [NOTE: Not attached – A.Y.]

For further information, please contact:

ESA Media Relations Service
Tel: +33 (0)1 53 69 71 55
Fax: +33 (0)1 53 69 76 90

Mars Express Media Event – 25 December 2003


01:00 (CET) – Door open for media

01:30- 02:15 – Opportunity for individual interviews and filming in main
control room

02:25-02:40 – ESA TV programme part 1. Opening/welcome.

03:40-03:56 – ESA TV programme part 2. Animation/graphics of upcoming milestones:

03:45 – Expected landing of Beagle 2

03:47-04:18 – Mars Express Orbit Insertion – main engine burn

04:15-04:20 – ESA TV programme part 3

04:30-07:00 – Early breakfast and possibility of interviews

05:30-05:40 – ESA TV programme part 4. Mission update

07:30 – Expected Mars Odyssey overfly results (overfly at 06:15). Possible first signals from Beagle 2.

08:45-09:20 – ESA TV programme part 5. Confirmation of Mars Express Mars Orbit Injection and Beagle 2 landing. Mission results/official statements.

09:30-10:00 – Press conference at ESOC (not televised, audio can be followed on phone link by dialling + 49 69 40 35 96 81).

10:30 -13:00 – Christmas brunch Individual interview opportunities for media.

14:00 – End of the event

Press Center at ESA/ESOC : +49.6151.90.22.66

Mars Express will set off in 2003 Mars Express will leave Earth for
Mars in late May or early June 2003 when the positions of the
two planets make for the shortest possible route, a condition
that occurs once every twenty-six months. The intrepid
spacecraft will start its six-month journey from the Baikonur
launch pad in Kazakhstan onboard a Russian Soyuz/Fregat
launcher. Once Mars Express has escaped the Earth and is on
course for the Red Planet, it will begin the six-month interplanetary
cruise at a velocity of 10 800 km/h relative to Earth. Five days
before arrival in December 2003, Mars Express will eject the
Beagle 2 lander, which will make its own way to the correct
landing site on the surface. The orbiter will then manoeuvre into
a highly elliptical capture orbit, from which it can move into its
operational near-polar orbit.

Credits: ESA – Illustration by Medialab