Christmas on Mars: be there with ESA

December 17, 2003

Paris, 16 Dec 2003

Launched on 2 June 2003, after a six-month cruise at an average speed of about 10 kilometres per second and covering a distance of about 400 million kilometres, ESA's Mars Express will arrive at Mars on Christmas Day.

After a very complicated and challenging series of operations during the night of 24/25 December 2003, the probe will be injected into an elliptical orbit near the poles of the Red Planet, while the Beagle 2 lander – released from the mother craft six days earlier – is expected to touchdown on the surface of Mars.

The exciting event can be followed at ESA's European Space Operations Centre (ESOC) in Darmstadt, Germany, on Thursday, 25 December, from 01:30 to 14:00 , together with the mission managers, the operation teams, scientists and top ESA management, including ESA's Director-General Jean-Jacques Dordain, ESA's Director of Science David Southwood and ESA's Director of Technical and Operational Support Gaele Winters. The highlights of the night will also be webcast over the internet at

As well as live streaming of key events, the Mars Express site will have daily news, features, images, videos and more.

The ESA TV Service will provide live coverage of operations, from the Operations Control Centre at ESOC. All transmission and satellite details are published online at

All live transmissions are also carried free-to-air on Astra 2C at 19 degrees East, transponder 57, horizontal, (DVB-MPEG-2), frequency 10832 MHz, Symbol Rate 22000 MS/sec, FEC 5/6. The service name is ESA.

Media wishing to attend are asked to complete the attached reply form and fax it back to ESA Media Relations Service: +33 (0)1 53 69 76 90.

For further information, please contact:

ESA Media Relations Service
Tel: +33 (0)1 53 69 71 55
Fax: +33 (0)1 53 69 76 90

Mars Express Media Event - 25 December 2003


01:00 (CET) Door open for media

01:30 - 02:15 Opportunity for individual interviews and filming in main control room

02:25 - 02:40 ESA TV programme part 1. Opening/welcome.

03:40 - 03:56 ESA TV programme part 2. Animation/graphics of upcoming milestones:

03:45 Expected landing of Beagle 2

03:47 - 04:18 Mars Express Orbit Insertion - main engine burn

04:15 - 04:20 ESA TV programme part 3

04:30 - 07:00 Early breakfast and possibility of interviews

05:30 - 05:40 ESA TV programme part 4. Mission update

07:30 Expected Mars Odyssey overfly results (overfly at 06:15). Possible first signals from Beagle 2.

08:45 - 09:20 ESA TV programme part 5. Confirmation of Mars Express Mars Orbit Injection and Beagle 2 landing. Mission results/official statements.

09:30 - 10:00 Press conference at ESOC (not televised, audio can be followed on phone link by dialling + 49 69 40 35 96 81).

10:30 - 13:00 Christmas brunch

14:00 End of the event

Press Center at ESA/ESOC: +49.6151.90.22.66

European Space Agency
Item source: 4OD_index_0.html

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