21 July 2002
What is the fastest Ferrari's distinctive red paint has ever travelled? Next year it will be 10800 km/h! Mars Express, to be launched in May/June 2003, the first European spacecraft to visit the Red Planet, will be speeding on its way accompanied by the very essence of Ferrari: a sample of its distinctive red paint.
Mars has always fascinated us here on Earth. The European Space Agency's Mars Express mission, due to arrive at its destination by December 2003, aims to solve many of the planet's age-old mysteries. It will ultimately be looking for the presence of water on Mars, but might also find evidence of life, both past and present. And, of course, it will be studying the red soil in depth.
Following the outstanding success of the Scuderia Ferrari with the victory of Michael Schumacher's fifth Formula 1 driver championship title, the Ferrari team has agreed to fly the symbol of that success on the Mars Express mission. Ferrari's high-tech red paint is recognised all over the world as being synonymous with the record-breaking marque.
When Mars Express is launched next May/June, the Ferrari red paint will be on board in a specially constructed glass globe measuring 2cm in diameter, designed to withstand the extremes of temperature it will encounter on its trip to Mars. The spacecraft will be launched on a Soyuz/Fregat launcher, reaching speeds of roughly 10800 kilometres per hour, nearly 10 times the speed of sound!
The paint is currently undergoing rigorous tests at ESA's test centre in the Netherlands to discover how it will withstand space conditions on the journey. Once it has been officially "space-qualified", it is due to be installed on the spacecraft at a formal ceremony in September.
Note to Editors
The European Space Agency's Science Programme is implementing a new communication strategy, exclusively targeting the general public.
Mars Express is the European Space Agency's first mission to explore the Red Planet. It consists of an orbiter, housing seven instruments for observing the surface, and a lander - Beagle 2 - that will investigate Martian rock and soil. It is due for launch in May/June 2003 from Baikonur in Kazakhstan.
The European Space Agency is made up of 15 member states. Its missions are funded by a unique collaborative system enabling space science research to be carried out on a scale that would be impossible for individual states.
For further information, visit: htpp://redencounter.esa.int
ESA Media Relations Service
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