Arrival of Mars Express and Beagle 2
Mars Express is equipped with a sophisticated instrument suite fitted with surface/subsurface, atmosphere and plasma instruments able to reveal remarkable details about Mars. This culmination of years of ideas, construction and travelling through space all relied on Mars Express entering a safe orbit around Mars.
Launched with Mars Express was the first British-built Martian lander, Beagle 2. The lander was released from Mars Express on 19 December, six days before the mother craft entered orbit around Mars, and scientists hoped that it would uncover important clues as to Mars’ ancient astrobiology. Unfortunately, contact with Beagle 2 was never made after its scheduled touchdown date and ESA declared it lost in February 2004.
Mars Express’ main engine fired the spacecraft into a highly elliptical orbit