On 2 June 2003, the first European mission to Mars will be launched. It will also be the first European mission to any planet. Mars Express has been designed to perform the most thorough exploration ever of the Red Planet. It has the ambitious aim of not only searching for water, but also understanding the ‘behaviour’ of the planet as a whole. But maybe the most ambitious aim of all — Mars Express is the only mission in more than 25 years that dares to search for life.