Mars Express Unites Europe’s Scientific Community

If you live in Europe, there’s almost certainly a research institute or industrial company near you that is contributing materials or expertise to Mars Express, Europe’s first mission to the Red Planet. Under the umbrella of the European Space Agency, at least 25 companies from 15 European countries are building hardware or software for the spacecraft, or otherwise contributing their expertise; and more than 200 scientists from research institutes in all ESA member states and beyond are contributing towards the scientific payload. “The Mars Express project is providing about 1000 jobs throughout Europe,” estimates Rudi Schmidt, Mars Express Project Manager at ESTEC, the European Space Agency’s technical centre in the Netherlands. Preparations are well under way and on schedule for a May/June 2003 launch sending the spacecraft on its six-month voyage. The structure is taking shape under the guidance of the prime contractor Astrium, Toulouse (France), and the scientific teams are on target with scientific instrument development.