Red Encounter

Mars Express with Ferrari's F2002 and the
575M Maranello
(c) ESA 2002. Photo by P. Dumas/EURELIOS

The sample of Ferrari red paint, is contained in a glass sphere sealed into a PMMA block
(c) ESA 2002

What is Red Encounter?

'Red Encounter' is the name we have given to the momentous meeting due to take place at the end of 2003 between two 'Red Planets': the planet Mars and Ferrari.

In May-June 2003, ESA's Mars Express spacecraft will set off on the first European mission to the Red Planet. On-board will be one of the most outstanding symbols of European excellence, a sample of Ferrari's famous red paint, the 'Rosso Corsa', housed in a specially constructed glass globe, known as FRED.

So how did the idea for this amazing Red Encounter come about?

Ask anyone what they know about Mars, and it is very likely that the first thing they mention will be its red colour. This colour reminded the Romans of the bloodshed on their battlefields, and so they named the planet after their god of war. Throughout history, Mars has fascinated men and women. For many centuries, we have suspected that it resembles Earth more closely than any other planet. Naturally, therefore, our desire to find out more about the Red Planet stems from a very real need to learn about the long-term future of our own.

So, when we were discussing how to bring the important Mars Express mission to the attention of the general public, the colour of the Red Planet, its most famous attribute, was an obvious focus. The colour red also immediately evokes the name of the famous European car manufacturer, Ferrari.

At the beginning of the twentieth century, the colour red was attributed by the FIA (Fédération Internationale Automobile) to all Italian Grand Prix racing cars. Today, even though the black prancing horse, the yellow (signifying the Italian city of Modena where the Scuderia Ferrari was founded) and the Italian flag form the emblem of Ferrari, the colour red undoubtedly remains the most distinctive element of the famous GT street and racing cars.

When it became apparent that 2002 would also be an outstanding one for the Scuderia Ferrari with the victory of Michael Schumacher's fifth Formula 1 driver championship title, we were thrilled that the Ferrari team agreed to fly the symbol of its success on the Mars Express mission.

So follow the journey over the next year as the amazing Red Encounter between Mars and Ferrari draws closer.