The Mars Express spacecraft:
a spectacular piece of machinery
(c) ESA 2002
 
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Amazing facts about the spacecraft

Mars Express is a spectacular piece of machinery. Check out the following extraordinary facts about a spacecraft that is taking Europe's first trip to the Red Planet.

  • The spare parts department for Mars Express would have to be enormous. Counting the electronic circuit peices, the metal pieces and all the bits of plastic, it takes more than 300,000 individual parts to make a Mars Express.
  • Filling up with fuel is a lengthy business, too. Mars Express uses two different types of fuel in tanks of 270 litres each.
  • If you took all the wire used to string together the electrical components on Mars Express and laid them end-to-end, they would stretch 5 kilometres.
  • It needs 2,200 bolts to connect all the mechanical components together.
  • Believe it or not, 25 kilograms of glue is on-board Mars Express. No, it's not for Beagle 2 to do some nice collages during those long Martian evenings. Glue is used to hold together those parts where screws cannot reach.
  • Although there are no astronauts on-board Mars Express, the spacecraft's cryo-radiators work hard to keep the interior pleasantly warm, even when exterior temperatures plunge below -200 C.
  • Its creature comforts don't stop there. Mars Express also has a microwave oven on-board. Well, not quite, but its communication system does transfer data using microwaves similar to those used to heat up yesterday's lasagne.
  • The entourage surrounding Mars Express everytime it goes on tour on Earth is even bigger than Britney Spears' crew. Just to travel down the road, the spacecraft requires one tonne of electrical test equipment and two tonnes of mechanical test equipment, along with some 20 people to operate it. And a bowl of fresh fruit, of course!

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