Research, Technology

Why is the Mars Express apparatus needed and where did its partner Beagle-2 disappear to?

When it comes to exploration of Mars, usuallyresearch vehicles of the American agency NASA are mentioned (hello, Perseverance!). But other countries also have such devices - for example, European researchers are studying the Red Planet using the Mars Express station. It was launched into space and entered the orbit of the planet already in 2003 and since then has made many interesting discoveries. For example, recently, with the help of it, a “huge creepy eye” was found on Mars. In addition to the orbital station, the Mars Express mission included the Beagle 2 lander, but after landing, it had a small trouble, due to which part of the mission failed. Intrigued? Let's find out more interesting information about these devices.

Interplanetary station "Mars Express"


  • 1 European Mars Express mission
  • 2 What does Mars Express consist of?
  • 3 Why did the Beagle-2 disappear?
  • 4 What discoveries did Mars Express make?

European Mars Express Mission

The Mars Express mission launched in June 2003year at the Baikonur Cosmodrome. The station of the same name and the Beagle-2 landing module were launched into space using the Soyuz-FG launch vehicle. Then the research vehicles set off towards Mars with the help of the Fregat upper stage. In December 2003, the station successfully undocked and entered the orbit of the planet, and the Beagle-2 descent vehicle landed on the surface, but did not make contact.

Launch vehicle "Soyuz-FG" with the spacecraft "Mars-Express"

We will talk about the reason why the descent vehicle did not respond to the requests of the mission leaders, a little later.

What is Mars Express made of?

The orbital station weighs 1123 kilograms, itswidth with open solar panels is 12 meters. The panel area is 11.42 square meters, which is a fairly large device. The energy generated by sunlight is stored in three lithium-ion batteries.

"Mars Express" in the laboratory

Among the scientific equipment, special attentionyou need to give a camera that allows you to take pictures of Mars with a resolution of 10 meters. Also, the device is equipped with an OMEGA spectrometer, which is designed to determine the composition of different surfaces. The MARSIS radar is needed to study the ionosphere and the deep layers of the planet. To study the atmosphere, there are ultraviolet and infrared spectrometers.

Mars Express can take more than just pictures

Why did the Beagle-2 disappear?

The Beagle 2 lander was designedBritish scientists to search for life on Mars. This name was not given by chance - all this is in honor of the ship on which the English naturalist Charles Darwin once traveled. The device successfully landed on the surface of Mars, but did not get in touch and could not begin its research work. But he had to explore the geology, mineralogy and other features of the plain of Isis, which was the landing site.

Lander "Beagle-2"

For 12 years, mission leaders have not beenwe are sure that the device landed exactly on the desired plain. The matter was cleared up only in 2015, when Beagle 2 was found in pictures taken by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. It turned out that the device really sat down in the right place and everything was fine with it - it did not even get damaged. The only problem was that after landing, its solar panels could not fully deploy. They blocked the antenna for transmitting signals, which is why the device could not get in touch.

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter

Strong evidence that humanity has already littered Mars. Here they are.

What discoveries did Mars Express make?

The Mars Express orbital station has been operating for 19 years, and during this time has made many scientific discoveries.

Here are the most important ones:

  • the discovery of the night glow of nitrogen monoxide, which was previously seen on Venus but was not observed on Mars;
  • the discovery of the smallest aerosol particles at an altitude of 70-100 kilometers;
  • discovery of water ice in the south polar cap at the end of the Martian summer;
  • the discovery of methane in the atmosphere of Mars, which is usually produced by living organisms (a sign of the existence of life on Mars!);
  • the discovery of dense clouds of dry ice that cast shadows on the surface and may even influence the planet's climate.
  • discovery of a lake on Mars, located at a depth of 1.5 kilometers under the ice of the South polar cap.

Station "Mars Express" from a different angle

In addition, the Mars Express station helpedAmerican scientists in search of the lost Mars Global Surveyor. At the time of his disappearance in 2006, he had already completed his research mission. Before going missing, he sent a signal about the violation of the position of one of his two solar panels. It is believed that this led to a lack of energy and ground equipment stopped seeing him. The Mars Express device tried to get in touch with him twice, but they were unsuccessful.

Image of the lost Mars Global Surveyor

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As for the Mars Express apparatus itself, itstill works fine. A lot of the data he sent is under study, so we will probably learn something new in the future. In order not to miss it, subscribe to us in the telegram - here is the link.