Mars Express was launched on June 2, 2003 from Baikonur Cosmodrome on a Soyuz-Fregat rocket to search for water and the possibility of Martian life. Consisting of a low-cost orbiter and lander, Mars Express is a European Space Agency (ESA) mission to the Red Planet involving a consortium of countries (primarily France, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Sweden, Spain, and the United States). In February 2007, Mars Express was granted a second mission extension until May 2009.
Mars Express was a two-component mission consisting of the Mars Express Orbiter and Beagle 2 lander. Unfortunately, the Beagle 2 lander failed on entry into the Martian atmosphere and was lost on Christmas Day, 2003. The crash site of Beagle 2 was later imaged by NASA's Mars Global Surveyor in a crator near the planned landing site of the equatorial region known as Isidis Planitia. Despite this early loss, the Mars Express orbiter continues on its mission to explore the Martian surface.