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The Mission
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What is the spacecraft?

Mars Express
Image courtesy of ESA.

The spacecraft is separate from the launch vehicle. It is the protective "spaceship" that carries important cargo--the seven orbital science instruments and the Beagle 2 lander -- to Mars. It also carries important power, thermal control, and communications systems.

When folded up during the cruise phase, the Beagle 2 lander resembles a very large pocket watch attached to the side of the Mars Express spacecraft underneath the umbrella of its heat resistant shield. The MARSIS antenna deploys once the spacecraft is in orbit around Mars.

How large and how heavy is the spacecraft?

Mars Express is 1.5 meters by 1.8 meters by 1.4 meters in size (4.9 feet by 5.9 feet by 4.6 feet). The solar panels have a total area of 11.4 square meters (122.7 square feet). Its mass is as follows:

Item Mass
Spacecraft Bus 439 kilograms (968 pounds)
Lander 60 kilograms (132 pounds)
Payload 116 kilograms (256 pounds)
Propellant 427 kilograms (941 pounds)
Total Launch Mass 1,042 kilograms (2,297 pounds)

What does the spacecraft have on it?

Major components include:

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