Airbus Mars Express celebrates 20 years in space
UNITED STATES - Scientists have been increasingly attracted to the red planet, and more than 50 exploration missions have now been recorded, including Airbus' Mars Express, which has provided a better understanding of the planet and prepared for future missions.
Mars Express marked 20 years since its launch, for which Airbus was the prime contractor, has not only collected essential data, but also paved the way for subsequent missions.
It was also the first planetary mission of the European Space Agency (ESA) when it was launched on June 2, 2003, and consisted of an orbiter carrying a suite of scientific instruments, including a lander called Beagle 2.
Initially designed for a mission of one Martian year (or 687 Earth days), the orbiter is one of the oldest spacecraft in operation beyond Earth and its mission has been extended several times.
The technology designed 20 years ago continues to withstand the hostile environment of interplanetary space.
The instruments on board have provided fundamental information about the topology and composition of the planet's surface, subsurface and atmosphere.
Where the initial objective was to create detailed maps of the planet and, in particular, to search for signs of groundwater.
It has found ice on the Martian ice caps and water buried beneath them, as well as rocks showing the ancient presence of oceans and lakes.