Mars Express is a Mars exploration mission of the European Space Agency and the first planetary mission attempted by the agency. "Express" originally referred to the spacecraft's relatively short interplanetary voyage, a result of being launched when the orbits of Earth and Mars brought them closer than ever before in recorded history (about 60,000 years). However "express" also describes the speed and efficiency with which the spacecraft was designed and built.
Mars Express consists of two parts, the Mars Express Orbiter and the Beagle 2, a lander designed to perform exobiology and geochemistry research on the planet. Although the lander failed to land safely on martian surface, the Orbiter has been successfully performing scientific measurements since Early 2004, namely, high-resolution imaging and mineralogical mapping of the surface, radar sounding of the subsurface structure down to the permafrost, precise determination of the atmospheric circulation and composition, and study of the interaction of the atmosphere with the interplanetary medium.
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