Mars Express spacecraft construction

Mars Express spacecraft construction

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Credit: PASQUALE SORRENTINO/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Mars Express spacecraft construction in the clean room at the Alenia Spazio company, Turin, Italy. This is a European Space Agency (ESA) unmanned probe that was approved for construction in January 2000, launched in June 2003, and reached Mars in December 2003. Its instruments include spectrometers to analyse the mineral composition of the planet's surface and atmosphere, and a high-resolution stereo camera to map the surface. The spacecraft communicates with the large dish antenna seen here. The orbiter also carried the failed lander Beagle 2. The initial Mars Express mission, which was for one Martian year (687 Earth days), is still continuing as of 2007, and has been extended to at least 2009. Photographed in 2002.

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