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Mars Express enters orbit around Red Planet
Posted: Thu, Dec 25, 2003, 10:31 AM ET (1531 GMT)
Mars Express illustration (ESA) ESA's Mars Express spacecraft successfully entered orbit around the planet Mars early Thursday. The spacecraft, ESA's first mission to the Red Planet, fired its main engine at 9:47 pm EST Wednesday (0247 GMT Thursday) for 37 minutes to inject the spacecraft into orbit around the planet. The spacecraft is currently in an elliptical orbit with an average altitude of several thousand kilometers. The spacecraft will alter its orbit on December 30 to enter a 300x10000 km polar orbit. Mars Express will also be available starting in early January to communicate with the Beagle 2 lander, provided that the lander is operating.
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