31st Annual Meeting of the DPS, October 1999
Session 21. Science and Technology of Future Space Missions I
Special Contributed Oral Parallel Session, Tuesday, October 12, 1999, 8:30-10:00am, Sala Kursaal

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[21.04] Mars Express: Mission and Science Goals (Invited)

A.F. Chicarro (Space Science Department., ESA/ESTEC, The Netherlands)

The ESA Mars Express mission includes an orbiter spacecraft and a small lander module to be launched in 2003 by a Soyuz rocket. The scientific objectives of the orbiter spacecraft include: global high-resolution photogeology at 10 m resolution, global mineralogical mapping at 100 m resolution, global atmospheric circulation and mapping of the atmospheric composition, subsurface structure at km scale down to the permafrost, surface-atmosphere interactions and interaction of the atmosphere with the interplanetary medium. For the lander module, the objectives include: geology, geochemistry, meteorology and exobiology (i.e. search for signatures of life) of the landing site.

Design estimates allow for an orbiter scientific payload of about 106 kg and 60 kg total lander mass (at launch) compatible with the approved mission scenario. The Beagle small lander, dedicated to geochemistry and exobiology with a number of robotic devices, will deploy a sophisticated robotic-sampling arm , which could manipulate different types of tools and retrieve samples to be analyzed by the geochemical instruments mounted on the lander platform. One of the tools to be deployed by the arm is a 'mole' capable of subsurface sampling to reach soil unaffected by solar-UV radiation.

The orbiter will be 3-axis stabilised and will be placed in an elliptical martian orbit (250 ( 10142 km)of 86.35 degrees inclination and 6.75 hours period. The nominal mission lifetime of one martian year (687 days) for the orbiter investigations will be extended by another martian year for lander relay communications with the European Netlanders to be launched in 2005 and to complete global coverage. ESA will provide the launcher, the orbiter and the operations, while the lander module as well as the instruments are to be delivered by the scientific community. International collaboration is very much valued to diversify the scope and enhance the scientific return of the mission, and in particular close cooperation between Nozomi and Mars Express within a joint ESA-ISAS programme of Mars exploration.

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