Call for Media: Mars Express supports NASA’s Curiosity landing

Curiosity landing target: Gale Crater
27 July 2012

ESA PR 24-2012 - Media representatives are invited to ESA’s operations centre in Germany on Monday, 6 August, to follow ESA's Mars Express supporting the entry, descent and landing of NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory.

On 6 August, NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) is set to deliver the Curiosity rover onto the Red Planet’s surface.

The landing in Gale Crater will mark the start of an ambitious exploration programme studying Mars’ habitability, climate and geology and collecting data for a future human mission to Mars.

Mars Express tracking MSL

During MSL’s critical entry, descent and landing phase, approximately 06:15-07:30 CEST, ESA’s Mars Express orbiter will perform a complex tracking operation.

The European spacecraft will be in an ideal position to record signals from the NASA lander to help scientists reconstruct the entry and landing profile to improve our understanding of the Red Planet’s atmosphere.

Confirmation of touchdown by NASA is set for 07:31 CEST.

ESA’s tracking and data recording by Mars Express will be a crucial back-up to NASA's own tracking efforts.

The Agency's ground network of 35 m-diameter deep-space antennas will also support the landing, standing by as ‘hot back-up’ to NASA’s own deep-space network.

European media invited to Darmstadt

ESA's P. Schmitz monitors data from NASA's Phoenix lander
Mars Express control room at ESOC

On 6 August, media are invited to ESOC, ESA’s European Space Operations Centre, Darmstadt, Germany, to follow progress live and be briefed by ESA’s Director for Human Spaceflight and Operations as well as leading ESA Mars science experts.

Media will also be briefed on ESA’s support of current and past NASA missions and on the long-standing operational and scientific cooperation between the two agencies.

Programme: 06:00-09:00 CEST

  • 06:00 Doors open
  • 06:30 Opening by Thomas Reiter, ESA Director for Human Spaceflight and Operations, Head of ESOC
  • 06:35 Europe at Mars: Eight years of Mars Express science by Mark McCaughrean, ESA Head of Research and Science Support
  • 06:50 Profile: Mars Express support to NASA MSL by Michel Denis, Mars Express Spacecraft Operations Manager
  • 07:05 Watch NASA TV live coverage of MSL EDL, moderated by Paolo Ferri, ESA Head of Planetary Mission Operations
  • 07:31 Confirmation of MSL landing on Mars (planned)
  • 07:50 Programme wrap-up by Manfred Warhaut, Head of ESA Mission Operations Department
  • 08:00 Interview opportunities, Q&A
  • 09:00 End


Members of the media wishing to take part must register online no later than 12:00 CEST, Friday, 3 August.

Live web streaming

On 6 August, the event will be live web streamed at:, starting at 06:30 CEST.

Contacts for media

Bernhard von Weyhe, PR Manager & coll.
ESA/ESOC Corporate Communications Office
Robert-Bosch-Str. 5
64293 Darmstadt, Germany
Tel: +49 6151 90 2516

ESA Media Relations Office
Communication Department
Tel: +33 1 53 69 72 99
Fax: +33 1 53 69 76 90

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