Mars Express spacecraft
Apollinaris Patera Caldera
Mars Express spacecraft

Mars Express spacecraft

Courtesy of NASA

Mars Express was launched by the European Space Agency. The spacecraft had two parts, an orbiter and a lander called Beagle 2, which was supposed to take samples and collect data from the Martian surface. When the lander was jettisoned to make its landing, communication was lost and never regained so that part of the mission failed. Fortunately, the orbiter is successful and continues to collect data.

June 2, 2003

December 26, 2003

End of Mission
Still operating

Search for subsurface water from orbit. Study the interaction between the solar wind and the atmosphere of Mars. Find out what happened to the large amount of water that was once on Mars.

Mars Express found evidence of recent glacial activity, explosive volcanism, and methane gas; those findings are still being debated by scientists. Seven instruments conducted investigations to help answer questions about the geology, atmosphere, surface environment, history of water, and potential for life on Mars. A radar instrument MARSIS (Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionospheric Sounding) provided information about features beneath the Martian surface, including buried impact craters and hints of deep underground water ice.