Twenty Years around Mars

It’s twenty years since the launch of Mars Express and later this year it will also complete twenty years of orbiting Mars – it continues to be one of the most successful orbiters ever.

Global Mars with Valles Marineris across the centre

Mars Express has orbited Mars for more than ten martian years, and for all that time it’s been recording the Martian atmosphere, its surface and its subsurface as it changed through the seasons. From time to time it has also studied Mars’ moons Phobos and Deimos, when the orbits aligned. This is more than remarkable, as its original mission was only planned to last just a single martian year, but thankfully it has been granted multiple extensions and is still returning valuable data. Current funding stretches to at least 2026.

To celebrate the milestone, ESA has pulled together data from Mars Express and created at a new global view of Mars (above). It combines minerals detected by Mars Express with a full colour map of Mars, and highlights the geology and topography of one of the most interesting areas of Mars, Valles Marineris. A close up section has been highlighted in the following image.

Valles Marineris with annotations.

Mars Express was also how Britain’s Beagle-2 lander was delivered to Mars – the UK’s first mission to another planet.

Beagle-2 lander. Delivered to Mars by Mars Express

Thanks Mars Express for all your hard work, and glorious images!




  • Mars Globe Image –
  • Mars close up –
  • Beagle-2 –
  • Mars Express –

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