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Mars Exploration timeline

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posted on Jun, 22 2008 @ 08:42 PM
Launch: 10 October 1960
Name: Korabl 4 / Marsnik 1 /Mars 1960A

Country: USSR (flyby)
Result: Failure
Reason: Didn't reach Earth orbit
After launch, the third stage pumps on both Marsnik launchers were unable to develop enough thrust to commence ignition, so Earth parking orbit was not achieved. The spacecraft reached an altitude of 120 km before reentry.

Launch: 14 October 1960
Name: Korabl 5 / Marsnik 2 / Mars 1960B

Country: USSR (flyby)
Result: Failure
Reason: Didn't reach Earth orbit
After launch, the third stage pumps on both Marsnik launchers were unable to develop enough thrust to commence ignition, so

Earth parking orbit was not achieved.

Launch: 24 October 1962
Name: Korabl 11 / Sputnik 22 / Mars 1962A

Country: USSR (flyby)
Result: Failure
Reason: Earth orbit only; spacecraft broke apart
The spacecraft and the upper stage were launched by an SL-6 into a 180 × 485 km Earth parking orbit and either broke up as they were going into Earth orbit or had the upper stage explode in orbit during the burn to put the spacecraft into Mars trajectory.

Launch: 1 November 1962
Name: Mars 1

Country: USSR (flyby)
Result: Failure
Reason: Radio Failed
On 21 March 1963, when the spacecraft was at a distance of 106,760,000 km from Earth on its way to Mars, communications ceased, probably due to failure of the spacecraft's antenna orientation system. Mars 1 closest approach to Mars occurred on June 19, 1963 at a distance of approximately 193,000 km, after which the spacecraft entered a heliocentric orbit.

Launch: 4 November 1962
Name: Korabl 13 / Sputnik 24 / Mars 1962B
Country: USSR (flyby)
Result: Failure
Reason: Earth orbit only; spacecraft broke apart
The complex broke up during the burn to transfer to Mars trajectory. Five large pieces were tracked by the U.S. Ballistic Missile Early Warning System. The geocentric orbit of the presumed booster decayed on 25 December 1962 and the Mars spacecraft orbit decayed and it re-entered Earth's atmosphere on January 19, 1963.

Launch: 5 November 1964
Name: Mariner 3

Country: US (flyby)
Result: Failure
Reason: Shroud failed to jettison
The shroud encasing the spacecraft atop its rocket failed to open properly, and Mariner 3 did not get to Mars. Unable to collect the Sun's energy for power from its solar panels, the probe soon died when its batteries ran out and is now in solar orbit.

Launch: 28 November 1964 Arrival at Mars: 14 July 1965
Name: Mariner 4

Country: US (flyby)
Result: Success
Reason: Returned 21 images

After 7½ months of flight involving one midcourse maneuver on 5 December 1964, the spacecraft flew by Mars on July 14 and July 15, 1965. Planetary science mode was turned on at 15:41:49 UT on 14 July. The camera sequence started at 00:18:36 UT on July 15 (7:18:49 p.m. EST on July 14) and 21 pictures using alternate red and green filters, plus 21 lines of a 22nd picture were taken. The images covered a discontinuous swath of Mars starting near 40° N, 170° E, down to about 35° S, 200° E, and then across to the terminator at 50° S, 255° E, representing about 1% of the planet's surface. The closest approach was 9,846 km from the Martian surface at 01:00:57 UT 15 July 1965 (8:00:57 p.m. EST 14 July). The images taken during the flyby were stored in the onboard tape recorder. At 02:19:11 UT Mariner 4 passed behind Mars as seen from Earth and the radio signal ceased. The signal was reacquired at 03:13:04 UT when the spacecraft reappeared. Cruise mode was then re-established.
Transmission of the taped images to Earth began about 8.5 hours after signal reacquisition and continued until 3 August. All images were transmitted twice to ensure no data was missing or corrupt.
The spacecraft performed all programmed activities successfully and returned useful data from launch until 22:05:07 UT on 1
October 1965, when the distance from Earth (309.2 million km) and the antenna orientation temporarily halted signal

On December 7 the gas supply in the attitude control system was exhausted, and on December 10 and 11 a total of 83 micrometeoroid hits were recorded which caused perturbation of the attitude and degradation of the signal strength. On 21 December 1967 communications with Mariner 4 were terminated.

First close-up image of Mars, from the Mariner 4 spacecraft

Mariner 4 image, the first close-up image ever taken of Mars. This shows an area about 330 km across by 1200 km from limb to bottom of frame, centered at 37 N, 187 W. The area is near the boundary of Elysium Planitia to the west and Arcadia Planitia to the east. The hazy area barely visible above the limb on the left side of the image may be clouds. This portion of the feature has been enhanced in image m04_01h to bring out more of the haze-like features. The resolution of this image is roughly 5 km and north is up. (Mariner 4, frame 01D)

Mariner 4 Mission Page - NSSDC Image



Launch: 30 November 1964
Name: Zond 2

Country: USSR (flyby)
Result: Failure
Reason: Radio failed
During some maneuvering in early May, 1965, communications were lost. Running on half power due to the loss of one of its solar panels, the spacecraft flew by Mars on August 6, 1965 at 5.62 km/s, 1,500 km away from the planet.

Launch: 25 February 1969
Name: Mariner 6

Country: US (flyby)
Result: Success
Reason: Returned 75 images

Mariner 6 took near-encounter photos of Mars on 31 July 1969. Frame 19, 3613 kilometers from the surface, shows flat-bottomed craters a few kilometers to a few hundred wide. High-resolution frames 20 and 22 show smaller, bowl-shaped craters, resembling primary impact craters found on the moon.

Full size:


Launch: 27 March 1969
Name: Mariner 7

Country: US (flyby)
Result: Success
Reason: Returned 126 images
On July 29, 1969, less than a week before closest approach, JPL lost contact with Mariner 7. They regained the signal via the backup low-gain antenna and were able to start using the high gain antenna again shortly after Mariner 6's close encounter.
It was later determined a battery onboard Mariner 7 had exploded. Based on the observations made by Mariner 6, Mariner 7 was reprogrammed in flight to take further observations of areas of interest and actually returned more pictures than Mariner 6, despite the explosion.

Full size:


Launch: 27 March 1969
Name: Mars 1969A

Country: USSR
Result: Failure
Reason: Launch vehicle failure
The first two stages of the rocket operated nominally, but a bearing failure in the third stage 438.66 seconds after launch led to a turbopump shutdown and fire, resulting in the rocket and payload exploding. Debris was strewn over the Altai mountains.

Launch: 2 April 1969
Name: Mars 1969B

Country: USSR
Result: Failure
Reason: Launch vehicle failure
Problems began almost immediately, when one of the six first-stage rocket motors exploded. The control systems attempted to automatically compensate and the rocket continued to lift from the pad on five engines. At 25 seconds into the launch, however, proper vehicle attitude could not be maintained, with the rocket reaching the horizontal attitude. The remaining engines shut down, and the launch vehicle and payload impacted the ground 41 seconds after launch, approximately 3 km away.

Launch: 8 May 1971
Name: Mariner 8

Country: US
Result: Failure
Reason: Launch failure
The main Centaur engine was ignited 265 seconds after launch, but the upper stage began to oscillate in pitch and tumbled out of control. The Centaur stage shut down 365 seconds after launch due to starvation caused by the tumbling. The Centaur and spacecraft payload separated and re-entered the Earth's atmosphere approximately 1500 km downrange and fell into the Atlantic Ocean about 560 km north of Puerto Rico.

Launch: 10 May 1971
Name: Cosmos 419

Country: USSR
Result: Failure
Reason: Achieved Earth orbit only
The SL-12/D-1-e Proton booster successfully put the spacecraft into low earth parking orbit (174 km x 159 km) with an inclination of 51.4 degrees. However, the Block D stage 4 then failed due to a bad ignition timer setting: the timer, intended to start ignition 1.5 hours after orbit was reached, had been erroneously set for 1.5 years. The orbit subsequently
decayed and the spacecraft re-entered Earth's atmosphere 2 days later on 12 May 1971.

Launch: 19 May 1971
Name: Mars 2 Orbiter/Lander

Country: USSR
Result: Failure
Reason: Orbiter arrived, but no useful data and Lander destroyed
After entering the atmosphere at approximately 6 km/s, the descent system on the module malfunctioned, possibly because the angle of entry was too steep. The descent sequence did not operate as planned and the parachute did not deploy. The lander crashed at 4° N, 47° W. Mars 2 was the first manmade object to reach the surface of Mars.

Launch: 28 May 1971
Name: Mars 3 Orbiter/Lander

Country: USSR
Result: Success
Reason: Orbiter obtained approximately 8 months of data and lander landed safely, but only 20 seconds of data

Mars 3 descent module was released at 09:14 UT on December 2, 1971, 4 hours 35 minutes before reaching Mars. The descent module entered the Martian atmosphere at roughly 5.7 km/s.
Through aerodynamic braking, parachutes, and retrorockets, the lander achieved a soft landing at 45° S, 158° W and began operations.
After 14.5 seconds, at 13:52:25, transmission on both data channels stopped for unknown reasons and no further signals were received at Earth from the martian surface. It is not known whether the fault originated with the lander or the communications relay on the orbiter.
Note: in according to other versions of the facts, the phototelevision cameras on Mars-3 were functional after the dust storm which caused the black-out. At least four photographic surveys have been reported (Dec 12, 14, Feb 28, Mar 12). Images were returned by pulse-code modulation over the decimeter-band telemetry channel, after the centimeter-band pulse-position modulation system failed.

Atmospheric Edge

Mountains in Equatorial Region

Signal from mars-3 Lander


Launch: 30 May 1971
Name: Mariner 9

Country: US
Result: Success
Reason: Returned 7,329 images
Mariner 9 was launched toward Mars on May 30, 1971 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and reached the planet on November 13 of the same year, becoming the first spacecraft to orbit another planet — only narrowly beating Soviet Mars 2 and Mars 3, which both arrived within a month. After months of dust-storms it managed to send back surprisingly clear pictures of the surface.

The labyrinth area of western Valles Marineris on Mars

Mariner 9 view of the labyrinth at the western end of Vallis Marineris on Mars. Linear graben, grooves, and crater chains dominate this region, along with a number of flat-topped mesas. The image is roughly 400 km across, centered at 6 S, 105 W, at the edge of the Tharsis bulge. North is up. (Mariner 9, MTVS 4187-45)

Original image:


Launch: 21 July 1973
Name: Mars 4

Country: USSR
Result: Failure
Reason: Flew past Mars
The Mars 4 orbiter reached Mars on 10 February 1974. Due to a flaw in the computer chip which resulted in degradation of the chip during the voyage to Mars, the retro-rockets designed to slow the craft into Mars orbit did not fire , and Mars 4 flew by the planet at a range of 2200 km. It returned one sath of pictures and some radio occultation data which constituted the first detection of the nightside ionosphere on Mars. It continued to return interplanetary data from solar orbit after the flyby.

Frame 1.V (52mm "Vega" phototelevision camera)
Full res:

Panorama 1 (orange filter, optical-mechanical linear cameras)
Full res:


Launch: 25 July 1973
Name: Mars 5

Country: USSR
Result: Success
Reason: Returned 60 images; only lasted 9 days

Nearly synchronized with the rotation of the planet, its two phototelevision cameras could be commanded to take 12 pictures during each close approach. The Vega camera used a wide area 52mm lens with color filters, the Zulfar camera used a telescopic 350mm lens and long-pass orange filter. Images were transmitted in a rapid 220-line mode, and then selected pictures were retransmitted at 880 or 1760 line resolution[2]. Mars 5 collected data for 22 orbits until a loss of pressurization in the transmitter housing ended the mission. About 60 images were returned over a nine day period showing swaths of the area south of Valles Marineris, from 5° N, 330° W to 20° S, 130° w.

Frame 6.Z (phototelevision cameras, February 17, Program 1)
Full res:

Frame 8.V (phototelevision cameras, February 21, Program 2)
Full res:

Composite 9,10,11
Full res:

Composed by: Frame 9.V (green) Frame 10.V (red) Frame 11.V (blue)

Optical-Mechanical Panorama - (optical-mechanical linear cameras)
Full res:


Launch: 5 August 1973
Name: Mars 6 Orbiter/Lander

Country: USSR
Result: Success/Failure
Reason: Occultation experiment produced data and Lander failure on descent
Contact with the descent module was lost at 09:11:05 UT in "direct proximity to the surface", probably either when the retrorockets fired or when it hit the surface at an estimated 61 m/s. Mars 6 landed at 23.90° S, 19.42° W in the Margaritifer Terra region of Mars. The landed mass was 635 kg. The descent module transmitted 224 seconds of data before transmissions ceased, the first data returned from the atmosphere of Mars. Unfortunately, much of the data were unreadable due to a flaw in
a computer chip which led to degradation of the system during its journey to Mars.

Data returned by the Mars 6 descent module allowed a profile of tropospheric structure from the base of the stratosphere at 25 km altitude at 150 K to the surface at 230 K and atmospheric density from 82 km to 12 km. A surface pressure of 6 mb and temperature of (230 K) -43 C were measured. Instruments also indicated "several times" more atmospheric water vapor than previously reported. The mass spectrometer data were stored on-board during the descent and scheduled to be transmitted after landing and were therefore lost. The current to the vacuum pump was transmitted as an engineering parameter, however, and a steep increase in current was found. It was hypothesized to indicate an inert gas which could not be removed by the pump, leading to an estimate of argon abundance in the atmosphere of 25% to 45%. (The actual value is now known to be about 1.6%.)
The Mars 6 flyby bus performed a radio occultation experiment and the results, in concert with results from Mars 4 and 5
occultation measurements, showed the existence of a nightside ionosphere with a maximum electron density of 4600 per cubic cm
at an altitude of 110 km and a near surface atmospheric pressure of 6.7 mbar.

Launch: 9 August 1973
Name: Mars 7 Lander

Country: USSR
Result: Failure
Reason: Missed planet; now in solar orbit.
Due to a problem in the operation of one of the onboard systems (attitude control or retro-rockets) the landing probe separated prematurely (4 hours before encounter) and missed the planet by 1300 km. The early separation was probably due to a computer chip error which resulted from degradation of the systems during the trip to Mars. The intended landing site was 50° S, 28° W. The lander and bus continued on into heliocentric orbits.

Launch: 20 August 1975
Name: Viking 1 Orbiter/Lander

Country: US
Result: Success
Reason: Located landing site for Lander and first successful landing on Mars
The Viking 1 Lander touched down in western Chryse Planitia ("Golden Plain") at 22.697° N latitude and 48.222° W longitude at a reference altitude of −2.69 km relative to a reference ellipsoid with an equatorial radius of 3397.2 km and a flatness of 0.0105 (22.480° N, 47.967° W planetographic) at 11:53:06 UT (16:13 local Mars time). Approximately 22 kg of propellants were left at landing.

Transmission of the first surface image began 25 seconds after landing and took about 4 minutes. During these minutes the lander activated itself. It erected a high-gain antenna pointed toward Earth for direct communication and deployed a meteorology boom mounted with sensors. In the next 7 minutes the second picture of the 300° panoramic scene
was taken. On the day after the landing the first color picture of the surface of Mars was taken. The seismometer failed to uncage, and a sampler arm locking pin was stuck and took 5 days to shake out. Otherwise, all experiments functioned nominally. The lander had two means of returning data to earth: a relay link up to the orbiter and back, and by using a direct link to earth. The data capacity of the relay link was about 10 times higher than the direct link.

First panoramic view by Viking 1 from the surface of Mars

Viking 1 images

posted on Jun, 22 2008 @ 08:50 PM
Launch: 9 September 1975
Name: Viking 2 Orbiter/Lander

Country: US
Result: Success
Reason: Returned 16,000 images and extensive atmospheric data and soil experiments
The Viking 2 Lander touched down about 200 km west of the crater Mie in Utopia Planitia at 48.269 ºN 225.990º W at an altitude of 4.23 km relative to a reference ellipsoid with an equatorial radius of 3397.2 km and a flattening of 0.0105 (47.967° N, 225.737° W planetographic) at 22:58:20 UT (9:49:05 a.m. local Mars time).

Viking Lander 2 image of Utopia Planitia

The Viking 2 lander operated on the surface for 1281 sols and was turned off on April 11, 1980 when its batteries failed.

Viking 2 images

Launch: 7 July 1988
Name: Phobos 1 Orbiter

Country: USSR
Result: Failure
Reason: Lost en route to Mars
Phobos 1 operated nominally until an expected communications session on 2 September 1988 failed to occur. The failure of controllers to regain contact with the spacecraft was traced to an error in the software uploaded on 29 August/30 August, which had deactivated the attitude thrusters. By losing its lock on the Sun, the spacecraft could no longer properly orient its solar arrays, thus depleting its batteries.

A natural question is "Why would a spacecraft have instructions that turn off the attitude control, normally a fatal operation?" In this case, these instructions were part of a routine used when testing the spacecraft on the ground. Normally this routine would be removed before launch. However, the software was coded in PROMs, and so removing the test code required
removing and replacing the entire computer. Because of time pressure from the impending launch, engineers decided to leave the command sequence in, though it never should be used. However, a single character error in constructing an upload sequence resulted in the command executing, with subsequent loss of the spacecraft.

Name: Phobos 2 Orbiter/Lander
Name: Phobos 1 Orbiter

Country: USSR
Result: Failure
Reason: Lost near Phobos
Shortly before the final phase of the mission, during which the spacecraft was to approach within 50 m of Phobos' surface and release two landers, one a mobile "hopper", the other a stationary platform, contact with Phobos 2 was lost. The mission ended when the spacecraft signal failed to be successfully reacquired on March 27, 1989. The cause of the failure was determined to be a malfunction of the on-board computer.

A mystery in Phobos II end?
One of the most poplular images from Phobos 2 is this one:

The Phobos Mystery Object (PMO) as it was referred to was soon believed to be a UFO by some. It was also speculated that the Russian mission had been deliberately terminated by aliens unwilling to let Phobos 2 approach the moon, supposed to be an artificial avant-poste of alien visitors on their way to earth. This scenario fit with the other mysteries: the supposed
hollow nature of the moon suggested by its strange gravitational behaviour, its strange closeness to the Martian surface, its visionary discovery by Jonathan Swift, the failure of Hershell and others to discover it and the sudden discovery by Hall that suggested it was not there before, the failure of Phobos 1, and all the other more famous Martian mysteries.
The Jan/Feb 1993 issue of the Planetary Society's "The Planetary Report" contains a brief note written by A.S. Selivanov and U.M. Gektin of the Institute of Space Device Engineering, Moscow, on the mysterious end of Phobos 2.
Read this paper about the consequences of the russian Phobos probes failures from 'The Sun', Flagstaff, Arizona, Sunday,

The final infrared picture photo of Phobos occurred just three days before the communication failure, it reveals the outlines of both Phobos and the PMO. All surface detail is washed out on both objects which is very common in infrared pictures.

See also:
Soviet probe meets ufo on Phobos mission

Looking at the Phobos 2 archive, i've noticed that there's a very similar feature, an image artifact, in many images:
for example in frame 2550033
25 Mar 1989 09:22:36
Range 268 km
Channel 3 (infrared)
8 ms exposure

"Stretching" the image, (resize 130% in widht) i got this result

it's not a perfect match, but the fact that a similar glitch is visible in many other images, at approx.
the same position even in images taken far away from there,
seems to be more than a clue: anyway the image is missing from the archive, nut of course this proves nothing.

There's also this image,

Read its story here:

But i'd prefer to don't dedicate too much place to this incident in this thread.
The Complete Phobos 2 VSK Image Data Set

Launch: 25 September 1992
Name: Mars Observer

Country: US
Result: Failure
Reason: Lost prior to Mars arrival
Contact with Mars Observer was lost on August 21, 1993, three days before scheduled orbit insertion, for unknown reasons and has not been re-established. It is not known whether the spacecraft was able to follow its automatic programming and go into Mars orbit or if it flew by Mars and is now in a heliocentric orbit.

The Loss of Mars Observer, by Malin Space Science Systems, Inc.

The Coffey Board report stated that the most probable cause of the loss of communications with the spacecraft on Aug. 21, 1993, was a rupture of the fuel (monomethyl hydrazine (MMH)) pressurization side of the spacecraft's propulsion system, resulting in a pressurized leak of both helium gas and liquid MMH under the spacecraft's thermal blanket. The gas and liquid would most likely have leaked out from under the blanket in an unsymmetrical manner, resulting in a net spin rate. This high spin rate would cause the spacecraft to enter into the "contingency mode," which interrupted the stored command sequence and thus, did not turn the transmitter on.

The board also identified three other possible causes:

  • Failure of the electrical power system, due to a regulated power bus short circuit;
  • NTO tank over-pressurization and rupture due to pressurization regulator failure;
  • The accidental high-speed ejection of a NASA standard initiator from a pyro valve into the MMH tank or other spacecraft system.

The JPL board report added two additional failure scenarios:

  • Loss of function that prevented both the spacecraft's main and backup computers from controlling the spacecraft;
  • Loss of both the main and backup transmitters due to failure of an electronic part.

NASA Mars Observer Failure Board Press Release
NASA Mars Observer Failure Board Press Release

NASA Mars Observer Failure Board Press Release
JPL Mars Observer Failure Board Press Release

[edit on 22/6/2008 by internos]

posted on Jun, 22 2008 @ 09:00 PM
Launch: 7 November 1996
Name: Mars Global Surveyor

Country: US
Result: Success
Reason: More images than all Mars Missions
The Mars Global Surveyor began the United States's return to Mars after a 20-year absence. It completed its primary mission in January 2001 and was in its third extended mission phase when it lost contact with NASA in November 2006.

On November 2, 2006, the spacecraft failed to respond to messages and commands. A faint signal was detected three days later which indicated that the craft had gone into safe mode. All attempts to recontact the Mars Global Surveyor and resolve the problem failed. In January 2007 NASA officially ended the mission.
On April 13, 2007 during a press release, has been presented a report which revealed likely causes of Mars Spacecraft loss:

Press Releases
April 13, 2007
Report Reveals Likely Causes of Mars Spacecraft Loss

WASHINGTON - After studying Mars four times as long as originally planned, NASA's Mars Global Surveyor orbiter appears to have succumbed to battery failure caused by a complex sequence of events involving the onboard computer memory and ground commands.

The causes were released today in a preliminary report by an internal review board. The board was formed to look more in-depth into why NASA's Mars Global Surveyor went silent in November 2006 and recommend any processes or procedures that could increase safety for other spacecraft.
Mars Global Surveyor last communicated with Earth on Nov. 2, 2006. Within 11 hours, depleted batteries likely left the spacecraft unable to control its orientation.

"The loss of the spacecraft was the result of a series of events linked to a computer error made five months before the likely battery failure," said board Chairperson Dolly Perkins, deputy director-technical of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.

Read full article HERE

Mars Global Surveyor achieved the following science objectives during its primary mission:

  • Characterize the surface features and geological processes on Mars.

  • Determine the composition, distribution and physical properties of surface minerals, rocks and ice.

  • Determine the global topography, planet shape, and gravitational field.

  • Establish the nature of the magnetic field and map the crustal remnant field. (A crustal remnant field is evidence of

    magnetism within the planet's crust or rocks, produced by the planet's own magnetic field at the time of formation.)

  • Monitor global weather and the thermal structure of the atmosphere.

  • Study interactions between Mars' surface and the atmosphere by monitoring surface features, polar caps that expand and recede, the polar energy balance, and dust and clouds as they migrate over a seasonal cycle.

Mars Global Surveyor also achieved the following goals of its extended mission:

  • Continued weather monitoring to form a continuous set of observations with NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, scheduled to reach the red planet in March 2006

  • Imaging of possible landing sites for the 2007 Phoenix lander, and the 2009 Mars Science Laboratory rover.

  • Observation and analysis of key sites of scientific interest, such as sedimentary-rock outcrop sites.

  • Continued monitoring of changes on the surface due to wind and ice.

Mars Global Surveyor carried a complement of five scientific investigations, which were furnished by NASA centers as well as universities and industry:

1) Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC)

The Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) science investigation used 3 instruments: a narrow angle camera that obtained grayscale (black-and-white) high resolution images (typically 1.5 to 12 m per pixel) and red and blue wide angle cameras for context (240 m per pixel) and daily global imaging (7.5 km per pixel). MOC operated in Mars orbit between September 1997 and November 2006. It returned more than 240,000 images spanning portions of 4.8 Martian years.

MOC wide-angle image S05-01983 (context image for S05-01982)

MOC narrow-angle image S05-01982

The white rectangle in the first image (S05-01983), indicates the area covered by the second image (S05-01982)

2) MOLA (Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter)

The Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter (MOLA) on the Mars Global Surveyor is designed to map the martian global topography and can also be used to measure the height of water and carbon dioxide clouds. This information will be used for scientific objectives including:

  • 1) to study the surface processes on Mars, including the formation and evolution of volcanoes, basins, channels and the polar ice caps;

  • 2) combined with gravity and other data, to study the structure and evolution of the interior of Mars, including the lithospheric thickness and strength, internal convection, composition, thermal history, and release of water and carbon dioxide to the surface;

  • 3) to calculate the volume and seasonal changes in the polar ice deposits;

  • 4) to measure the altitude and distribution of water and carbon dioxide clouds, for the purpose of constraining the

    volatile budget in the martian atmosphere.

The MOLA works by transmitting a laser pulse down towards the surface. The pulse is reflected off the surface (or cloud) back to the instrument, where the return is detected. The two-way travel time is recorded, giving a measure of the distance between the spacecraft and the surface. Corrections are made to this distance based on atmospheric effects and accurate tracking of the spacecraft position allows an estimate of the surface altitude or cloud height. A large number of surface altimetry measurements will be taken, and combined to produce a global topographic map.

The MOLA consists of a diode pumped, Q-switched Nd:YAG laser transmitter with a pulse energy of 40-45 mJ. It can send continuous bursts of 10 pulses/sec, each pulse having a beam diameter of 1 cm and a divergence of 0.45 mrad. The reciever is a 50 cm parabolic antenna with a Si APD detector and four electronic filters (20, 60, 180, and 540 ns). The reciever field of view is 0.85 mrad with a 10 degree cone about the mirror exclusion. The vertical resolution is 2 m local (relative) and 30 m
global (absolute). The horizontal resolution is 160 m. The altimeter is run by a 80C86 microprocessor with 54HC family logic.

The altimeter is mounted to the Mars Global Surveyor instrument panel.

Topographic maps produced by the Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter (MOLA)
Tharsis hemisphere

Hellas hemisphere

Color coding is for altitude: blue is lowest, red high, white is highest:

Full res

Mars Global Surveyor Reveals the Internal Structure of Mars

Global slice of the crustal structure of Mars along 0° E longitude as derived from gravity and topography data from the

Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft: the south pole is at the far right and the north pole is at the far left. For illustrative purposes the crustal structure is vertically exaggerated and is about 40 km thick under the northern plains and 70 km thick at high southern latitudes.
Additional analysis of the topography and gravity indicates that the northern lowlands was likely a zone of high heat flow early in Martian history, relecting vigorous convection of the Martian interior. This rapid heat loss could have released gases trapped within the planet to the atmosphere and underground ice or water to the surface, helping to produce a warmer, wetter climate than present on Mars today.

(Credit: MGS RS and MOLA Science Teams)

Circum-Mars profiles of crustal thickness along longitude lines of (A) 0° to 180° E and (B) 70° to 250° E. Light grey represents crust, and dark grey represents mantle. In the figures the south pole is at both ends of the plot, the north pole is at the center, and the lower longitude profiles (0° E and 70° E) are on the left sides of the plots. Apparent crustal
thickening beneath the north and south polar regions is an artifact of the assumption that layered terrains and ice caps are composed of material with the same density as the crust rather than less dense ice plus dust. The arrows in (A) show the location of the hemispheric dichotomy boundary. The vertical exaggeration is 30:1.

(Credit: MGS RS abd MOLA Science Teams)

Polar stereographic projection of martian crustal thickness. The figure encompasses latitudes from 20° S to 90° N. (Credit:

MGS RS and MOLA Science Teams)

Effective elastic thickness Te and corresponding heat flow q obtained from lithospheric thickness inversion. Shown for comparison (dashed line) is the depth to the Curie temperature indicated from analysis of MGS magnetic data in Terra Cimmeria.
(Credit: MGS RS and MOLA Science Teams)

High-resolution gravity draped over a shaded relief map of part of the northern hemisphere showing evidence for buried channels: (A) observed free-air gravity and (B) predicted gravity due to attraction of surface topography. The fact that (A) and (B) differ indicates that the gravity lows (in blue) in the northern lowlands shown in (A) are due to subsurface mass deficit. The plot is a Hammer projection from 30° S to 90° N latitude, 270° to 360° E longitude. North is at the top of each panel. Valles Marineris is the prominent feature at the lower left.
(Credit: MGS RS and MOLA Science Teams)

A mercator version of previous image. High-resolution gravity draped over a shaded relief map of part of the northern hemisphere showing evidence for buried channels: (TOP) observed free-air gravity and (BOTTOM) predicted gravity due to attraction of surface topography. The fact that the top and bottom figures differ indicates that the gravity lows (in blue) in the northern lowlands shown in the top frame are due to subsurface mass deficit. Valles Marineris is the prominent feature
at the lower left of each frame.
(Credit: MGS RS and MOLA Science Teams)


MOLA at Goddard Space Flight Center

Mission Experiment Gridded Data Records

Mars MOLA Viewer



3)TES (Thermal Emission Spectrometer)

The TES instrument systematically measured and monitored the Martian surface and atmosphere throughout all phases of the mission. The TES spectrometer collected over 206 million infrared spectra, and the TES bolometer was in continual full-time use throughout the entire mission.

TES was and is both an instrument and a technique. The Thermal Emission Spectrometer was a scientific instrument that first
flew aboard the Mars Observer spacecraft. Following the loss of that spacecraft, TES was rebuilt and launched along with five

of the original seven Mars Observer instruments aboard the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft. The purpose of TES was to measure

the thermal infrared energy (heat) emitted from Mars. This technique, called thermal emission spectroscopy, can tell us much

about the geology and atmosphere of Mars. TES data provided the first detailed look at the composition of Mars.

4)MAGNETOMETER (Electron Reflectometer)

The magnetometer studied the magnetic properties of Mars to gain insight into the interior of the planet. This instrument

found small, localized magnetic fields and remnants of larger areas of ancient magnetic fields, providing clues to how Mars

evolved as a planet

New Map Provides More Evidence Mars Once Like Earth

NASA scientists have discovered additional evidence that Mars once underwent plate tectonics, slow movement of the planet's

crust, like the present-day Earth. A new map of Mars' magnetic field made by the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft reveals a

world whose history was shaped by great crustal plates being pulled apart or smashed together.

This high resolution magnetic field map, the first of its kind, covers the entire surface of Mars. The new map is based on

four years of data taken in a constant orbit. Each region on the surface has been sampled many times. “The more measurements

we obtain, the more accuracy, and spatial resolution, we achieve," said Dr. Jack Connerney, co-investigator for the Mars

Global Surveyor magnetic filed investigation at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.

This map lends support to and expands on the 1999 results,
said Dr. Norman Ness of the Bartol Research

Institute at the University of Delaware, Newark.

Where the earlier data showed a "striping" of the magnetic field in

one region, the new map finds striping elsewhere. More importantly, the new map shows evidence of features, transform faults,

that are a "tell-tale" of plate tectonics on Earth.
Each stripe represents a magnetic field pointed in one

direction­positive or negative­and the alternating stripes indicate a "flipping" of the direction of the magnetic field from

one stripe to another.

Credit: NASA
The Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft measures the direction and strength of the magnetic field as it passes over the Mars

crust. In this projection, taken from just one of the earlier orbits, one sees the field direction flipping in direction as

the spacecraft passes over the stripes in the southern hemisphere. The Earth's has a global magnetic field that nearly

aligned with its rotation axis that allows people to navigate by compass which always point north. In contrast on Mars the

direction of the magnetic field changes dramatically from place to place.

Credit: NASA
This global map is built up from many thousands of orbits at constant altitude (mapping orbit), and uses colors to represent

the strength and direction of the field caused by crustal magnetization.
To see this characteristic magnetic imprint on Mars indicates that it, too, had regions where new crust came up from the

mantle and spread out across the surface. And when you have new crust coming up, you need old crust plunging back down­the

exact mechanism for plate tectonics.

PIA02819: Mars Crustal Magnetic Field Remnants

The radial magnetic field measured is color coded on a global perspective view that shows measurements derived from

spacecraft tracks below 200 km overlain on a monochrome shaded relief map of the topography.

This image shows especially strong Martian magnetic fields in the southern highlands near the Terra Cimmeria and Terra

Sirenum regions, centered around 180 degrees longitude from the equator to the pole. It is where magnetic stripes possibly

resulting from crustal movement are most prominent. The bands are oriented approximately east - west and are about 100 miles

wide and 600 miles long, although the longest band stretches more than 1200 miles.

The false blue and red colors represent invisible magnetic fields in the Martian crust that point in opposite directions. The

magnetic fields appear to be organized in bands, with adjacent bands pointing in opposite directions, giving these stripes a

striking similarity to patterns seen in the Earth's crust at the mid-oceanic ridges.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL

5) RADIO SCIENCE / Gravity Field Experiment using the Ultra Stable Oscillator (USO)

The radio science investigation used data provided by the Mars Global Surveyor's telecommunications system, high-gain

antenna, and onboard ultra-stable oscillator (an ultra-precise clock) to map variations in the gravity field. These

measurements also enabled scientists to determine the atmospheric pressure at specific locations as the spacecraft sent its

signal through the atmosphere while disappearing behind the planet and re-emerging every orbit.

Determine Profiles of Refractive Index, Number Density, Temperature and Pressure at up to 20 meters Vertical Resolution for

the Lowest Few Scale Heights at High Latitudes in Both Hemispheres on a Daily Basis for a Martian Year
Characterize the Small Scale Structure of the Atmosphere and Ionosphere

Develop a Global, High-Resolution Model for the Gravitational Field
Determine Both Local and Broad Scale Density Structure and Stress State of Martian Crust and Upper Mantle


  • Signal Strength and Carrier Frequency

  • Ultrastable Oscillator Provides Frequency Reference

  • Frequency:
    7164.624 MHz Uplink
    8417.716 MHz Downlink (Closed Loop)
    8416.368 MHz Downlink (In-Use Mode)

  • Stability (Sq. Root of Allan Variance):
    5X10-12 for 0.1 s Integration
    1X10-12 for 1.0 s Integration
    4X10-13 for 10 S to 1000 s Integration

  • Electronics
    No Computer
    High Accuracy Clock Generator

PIA02817: Mars Gravity Anomoly Map

Image Credit: NASA/JPL

This is a vertical gravity map of Mars color-coded in mgals based on radio tracking. Note correlations and lack of

correlations with the Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter (MOLA) global topography.

In addition to the science instruments, the spacecraft carried an ultra-high frequency (UHF) antenna.

The Mars Relay is the only instrument not designed to take scientific measurements. Instead, this cylindrical-shaped antenna

will focus its efforts on collecting data transmitted to Surveyor from landers on the Martian surface. After

collecting the data, Surveyor will transmit the data back to Earth. The advantage of using Surveyor as a relay satellite for

Mars landers was that the lander spacecraft did not need to carry a large antenna to talk with the Earth.The relay operates

at a UHF frequency of 437.1 megaHertz and can listen to stations on the Martian surface up to 5,000 km (3,125 miles) away

from Surveyor.

Mars Global Surveyor Mars Orbiter Camera Image Gallery


Launch: 16 November 1996
Name: Mars 96

Country: USSR
Result: Failure
Reason: Launch vehicle failure
The rocket performed properly up to parking orbit. The planned second burn of the Block D-2 fourth stage failed to take

place. The spacecraft then separated and then attempted to make its engine burn. Unfortunately, without the fourth stage

burn, the spacecraft accelerated itself into the atmosphere. It then burned up and fell into the ocean off the Chilean coast.

The Block D-2 re-entered on a later orbit. The cause for the failure of the fourth stage is not known.

What Really Happened With Mars-96?
Igor Lissov, with comments from Jim Oberg /November 19, 1996
This sequence of events from the reliable private Russian space group Videokosmos, annotated with James Oberg's notes in

square brackets [and italics], probably is the best story so far of this lamentable episode


Launch: 4 December 1996
Name: Mars Pathfinder

Country: US
Result: Success
Reason: Technology experiment lasting 5 times longer than warranty
After a 7-month voyage it landed on Ares Vallis, in a region called Chryse Planitia on Mars, on 4 July 1997. During its voyage the spacecraft had to accomplish four flight adjustments on 10 January, 3 February, 6 May and 25 June. The lander opened, exposing the rover called Sojourner that would go on to execute many experiments on the Martian surface.

This is a panorama of the first set of images returned by the Mars Pathfinder engineering model during ORT 6. The purpose of the mosaic is to assess the position of the deflated airbags at the base of the lander. Determining this is of crucial importance for judging whether or not the rover can safely traverse off the lander on to the Martian surface. The images were taken at a wavelength of 965 nanometers, (in the near infrared part of the electromagnetic spectrum). The numbers on the images are frame IDs. The coordinate system, shown by the white squares, is in degrees of elevation (vertical) and azimuth (horizontal). There are no airbags visible, indicating that they have been safely retracted. Note that there are two images labeled "1". Image #1 at an azimuth of 320-335 degrees was taken through the right camera. All other frames were imaged through the left camera. Parts of the lander can be seen in the foreground. A radiometric calibration target is visible in frames 7 and 8 and the solar panels are seen in the other image

[edit on 22/6/2008 by internos]

posted on Jun, 22 2008 @ 09:15 PM
Launch: 11 December 1998
Name: Mars Climate Orbiter

Country: US
Result: Failure
Reason: Lost on arrival
The Mars Climate Orbiter was intended to enter orbit at an altitude of 140–150 km above Mars. However, a navigation error caused the spacecraft to reach as low as 57 km. The spacecraft was destroyed by atmospheric stresses and friction at this low altitude. The navigation error arose because a NASA subcontractor (Lockheed Martin) used Imperial units (pound-seconds) instead of the metric units (newton-seconds) as specified by NASA.

Why The Mars Probe Went Off Course - By James Oberg
SPECTRUM Magazine, December 1999

MCO website:

PIA02330: Mars Climate Orbiter MARCI Approach Image

Image caption:

This image is the first view of Mars taken by the Mars Climate Orbiter (MCO) Mars Color Imager (MARCI). It was acquired on 7 September 1999 at about 16:30 UTC (9:30 AM PDT), when the spacecraft was approximately 4.5 million kilometers (2.8 million miles) from the planet. This full-scale medium angle camera view is the highest resolution possible at this distance from Mars. At this point in its orbit around the sun, MCO is moving slower than, and being overtaken by, Mars (the morning side of the planet is visible in this picture). The center longitude is around 240° W.

Launch: 3 January 1999
Name: Mars Polar Lander + Deep Space 2 Probes (2)

Country: US
Result: Failure
Reason: Lost on arrival
MPL + DS2 Lost

The last telemetry from the Mars Polar Lander was sent just prior to atmospheric entry on December 3, 1999. No further signals have been received from the lander. The cause of this loss of communication is unknown.
According to the investigation that later followed, the most likely cause of the failure of the mission was a software error that mistakenly identified the vibration caused by the deployment of the lander's legs as being caused by the vehicle touching down on the Martian surface, resulting in the vehicle's descent engines being cut off while it was still 40 meters above the surface, rather than on touchdown as planned. Another possible reason for failure was inadequate preheating of catalysis beds for the pulsing rocket thrusters: hydrazine fuel decomposes on the beds to make hot gases that throttle out the rocket nozzles; cold catalysis beds caused misfiring and instability in crash review tests.
Attempts were made in late 1999 and early 2000 to search for the remains of the Mars Polar Lander using images from the Mars
Global Surveyor. These attempts were unsuccessful, but re-examination of the images in 2005 led to a tentative identification described in the July 2005 issue of Sky and Telescope. However, higher resolution photos taken later in 2005 revealed that this identification was incorrect, and that the Mars Polar Lander remains lost. NASA is hoping that the higher resolution
cameras of the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, currently in Martian orbit, will finally locate the lander's remains.

See also:
Spy Agency May Have Located Mars Polar Lander
MGS Finds Viking Lander 2 and Mars Polar Lander (Maybe)

Mars Polar Lander - (front view)

Mars Polar Lander - (back view)

DS2 probe components

Deep Space 2 Penetrator

Mars Polar Lander Official Website

Name: Mars Odyssey

Country: US
Result: Success
Reason: High resolution images of Mars

Odyssey was launched April 7, 2001 on a Delta II rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and reached Mars on October 24, 2001, 0230 Universal Time (October 23, 7:30 p.m. PDT/ 10:30 EDT). The spacecraft's main engine fired to brake the spacecraft's speed and allowed it to be captured into orbit around Mars. Odyssey used a technique called "aerobraking" that gradually brought the spacecraft closer to Mars with each orbit. By using the atmosphere of Mars to slow down the spacecraft in its orbit rather than firing its engine or thrusters, Odyssey was able to save more than 200 kilograms (440 pounds) of propellant. Aerobraking ended in January, and Odyssey began its science mapping mission on February 19, 2002.

The 2001 Mars Odyssey mission makes use of many innovative technologies, but the most important among them are the three instrument packages. All three involve the use of spectrometers.

2001 Mars Odyssey makes use of several kinds of spectrometers:
THEMIS: The Thermal Emission Imaging System

How THEMIS Works in the Infrared

During the martian day, the sun heats the surface. Surface minerals radiate this heat back to space in characteristic ways that can be identified and mapped by the instrument. At night, since it maps heat, the imager searches for active thermal spots.

In the infrared spectrum, the instrument uses 9 spectral bands to help detect minerals within the martian terrain.

These spectral bands, similar to ranges of colors, can obtain the signatures (spectral "fingerprints") of particular types of geological materials. Minerals, such as carbonates, silicates, hydroxides, sulfates, hydrothermal silica, oxides and phosphates, all show up as different colors in the infrared spectrum.
This multi-spectral method allows researchers to detect in particular the presence of minerals that form in water and to understand those minerals in their proper geological context.
(THEMIS' infrared capabilities have significantly improved the data from TES, a similar instrument on Mars Global Surveyor.)

A word from THEMIS' lead scientist - Dr. Philip Christensen

THEMIS image of Hebes Mensa released on 7/10/04
Image Credit: NASA/JPL/ASU/Cornell/Don Davis

THEMIS IR image of Melas Chasma released on 8/11/04
Image Credit: NASA/JPL/ASU

How THEMIS Works in the Visible

THEMIS image of Gusev creater.
This THEMIS image covers a portion of the center of the elliptical region in which the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit is expected to land.
Released on 6/11/03
Image Credit: NASA/JPL/ASU
NASA Orbiter Finds Possible Cave Skylights on Mars09.21.07

The image covers a patch of Martian ground, centered on a possible cave skylight informally called "Annie," which has a diameter about double the length of a football field.
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/USGS

NASA's Mars Odyssey spacecraft has discovered entrances to seven possible caves on the slopes of a Martian volcano.
The find is fueling interest in potential underground habitats and sparking searches for caverns elsewhere on the Red Planet.

Very dark, nearly circular features ranging in diameter from about 100 to 250 meters (328 to 820 feet) puzzled researchers who found them in images taken by NASA's Mars Odyssey and Mars Global Surveyor orbiters. Using Mars Odyssey's infrared camera to check the daytime and nighttime temperaturof the circles, scientists concluded that they could be windows into underground spaces.

GRS: The Gamma Ray Spectrometer
The gamma ray spectrometer has measured the abundance and distribution of many elements of the periodic table, including hydrogen, silicon, iron, potassium, thorium, and chlorine. Knowing what elements are at or near the surface gives detailed information about how Mars has changed over time. To detmine the elemental makeup of the martian surface, the experiment uses gamma ray spectrometer and two neutron detectors.

A word from GRS' lead scientist
This map is based on gamma rays from the element hydrogen on Mars.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL/UA

How GRS Works

When exposed to cosmic rays (charged particles in space that come from the stars, including our sun), chemical elements in soils and rocks emit uniquely identifiable signatures of energy in the form of gamma rays. The gamma ray spectrometer looks at these signatures, or energies, coming from the elements present in the Martian soil.

By measuring gamma rays coming from the martian surface, it is possible to calculate how abundant various elements are and how they are distributed around the planet's surface. Gamma rays, emitted from the nuclei of atoms, show up as sharp emission lines on the instrument's spectrum. While the energy represented in these emissions determines which elements are present, the intensity of the spectrum reveals the elements concentrations. The spectrometer has added significantly to the growing understanding of the origin and evolution of Mars and the processes shaping it today and in the past.

How are gamma rays and neutrons produced by cosmic rays? Incoming cosmic rays--some of the highest-energy particles--collide with atoms in the soil. When atoms are hit with such energy, neutrons are released, which scatter and collide with other atoms. The atoms get " excited" in the process, and emit gamma rays to release the extra energy so they can return to their normal rest state. Some elements like potassium, uranium, and thorium are naturally radioactive and give
off gamma rays as they decay, but all elements can be excited by collisions with cosmic rays to produce gamma rays. The HEND
and Neutron Spectrometers on GRS directly detect scattered neutrons, and the Gamma Sensor detects the gamma rays.

How GRS Helps Detect Water
By measuring neutrons, it is possible to calculate the abundance of hydrogen on Mars, thus inferring the presence of water.

The neutron detectors are sensitive to concentrations of hydrogen in the upper meter of the surface. Like a virtual shovel "digging into" the surface, the spectrometer allows scientists to peer into this shallow subsurface of Mars and measures the amount of hydrogen that exists there. Since hydogen is most likely present in the form of water ice, the spectrometer is able to measure directly the amount of permanent ground ice and how it changes with the seasons.

MARIE: The Martian Radiation Environment Experiment

Led by NASA's Johnson Space Center, this science investigation characterized aspects of the radiation environment both on the way to Mars and in the martian orbit.

Since space radiation presents an extreme hazard to crews of interplanetary missions, the experiment predicted anticipated
radiation doses that would be experienced by future astronauts and is helping to determine possible effects of martian radiation on human beings.

Space radiation comes from cosmic rays emitted by our local star, the sun, and from stars beyond our solar system as well.

Space radiation can trigger cancer and cause damage to the central nervous system. Similar instruments are flown on the Space

Shuttles and on the International Space Station (ISS), but before Odyssey none had ever flown outside of Earth's protective magnetosphere, which blocks much of this radiation from reaching the surface of our planet.

How the Instrument Works
A spectrometer inside the instrument measured the energy from these radiation sources.

The instrument, with a 68-degree field of view, collected data during Odyssey's cruise from Earth to Mars. It stored large amounts of data for downlink whenever possible, and operated in orbit around Mars until a large solar event bombarded the

Odyssey spacecraft on October 28, 2003. MARIE h been unable to collect data since that time, and engineers believe the most

likely cause is that a computer chip was damaged by a solar particle smashing into the MARIE computer board. Odyssey

engineers will attempt to turn on MARIE again in the winter of 2005, after enough time has passed that MARIE may have

recovered itself, like it did during a similar incident during cruise.


Launch: 2 June 2003
Name: Mars Express Orbiter/Beagle 2 Lander

Country: ESA
Result: Success/Failure
Reason: Orbiter imaging Mars in detail, lander lost on arrival

Mars Express arrived at Mars after a 400 million km journey and course corrections in September and in December 2003.

On December 20 Mars Express fired a short thruster burst to put it into position to orbit the planet. The Mars Express

Orbiter then fired its main engine and went into a highly elliptical initial-capture orbit of 250 km × 150,000 km with an

inclination of 25 degrees on December 25 at 03:00 UT (10:00 p.m., December 24 EST).

Although the Beagle 2 craft successfully deployed from the Mars Express "mother ship", confirmation of a successful landing

was not forthcoming. Confirmation should have come on 25 December 2003, when the Beagle 2 should have contacted NASA's Mars

Odyssey spacecraft that was already in orbit. In the following days, the Lovell Telescope at Jodrell Bank also failed to pick

up a signal from Beagle 2. The team said they were "still hopeful" of finding a successful return signal.

Attempts were made throughout January and February of 2004 to contact Beagle 2 using Mars Express. The first of these

occurred on January 7, 2004, but ended in failure. Although regular calls were made, particular hope was placed on

communication occurring on January 12, when Beagle 2 was pre-programmed to expect the Mars Express probe to fly overhead, and

on February 2, when the probe was supposed to resort to the last communication back-up mode: Autotransmit. However, no

communication was ever established with Beagle 2.

Orbiter scientific payload

Surface/subsurface instruments
- HRSC (High Resolution Stereo Camera)

The HRSC on board ESA's Mars Express will image the entire planet in full colour, 3D and with a resolution of about 10

metres. Selected areas will be imaged at 2-metre resolution. One of the camera's greatest strengths will be the unprecedented

pointing accuracy achieved by combining images at the two different resolutions.
The Camera Head is the light grey unit in the middle and the top rectangular aperture. The Super Resolution Channel (SRC) is

the black cylindrical aperture at lower right. The Camera Head and SRC together measure 515 x 300 x 260 mm. The Digital Unit

is the black box at the back. The complete HRSC weighs 20.4 kilograms and consumes about 48.7 Watts with both camera and SRC


Credits: DLR/FU Berlin/ESA 2003

- OMEGA (Visible and Infrared Mineralogical Mapping Spectrometer)

- MARSIS (Sub-surface Sounding Radar Altimeter)

MARSIS will map the sub-surface structure to a depth of a few kilometres. The instrument's 40-metre long antenna will send

low frequency radio waves towards the planet, which will be reflected from any surface they encounter.
For most, this will be the surface of Mars, but a significant fraction will travel through the crust to be reflected at

sub-surface interfaces between layers of different material, including water or ice.

Credits: DLR/FU Berlin/ESA 2003

Atmosphere/Ionosphere instruments
- PFS (Planetary Fourier Spectrometer)

The PFS is determining the composition of the Martian atmosphere from the wavelengths of sunlight (in the range 1.2-45

microns) absorbed by molecules in the atmosphere and from the infrared radiation they emit.
In particular, it will measure the vertical pressure and temperature profile of carbon dioxide which makes up 95% of the

martian atmosphere, and look for minor constituents including water, carbon monoxide, methane and formaldehyde.

Credits: DLR/FU Berlin/ESA 2003

- SPICAM (Ultraviolet and Infrared Atmospheric Spectrometer)

SPICAM is determining the composition of the atmosphere from the wavelengths of light absorbed by the constituent gases. An

ultraviolet (UV) sensor will measure ozone, which absorbs 250-nanometre light, and an infrared (IR) sensor will measure water

vapour, which absorbs 1.38 micron light.

Credits: DLR/FU Berlin/ESA 2003

- ASPERA (Energetic Neutral Atoms Analyser)

ASPERA is measuring ions, electrons and energetic neutral atoms in the outer atmosphere to reveal the numbers of oxygen and

hydrogen atoms (the constituents of water) interacting with the solar wind and the regions of such interaction.
Constant bombardment by the stream of charged particles pouring out from the Sun, is thought to be responsible for the loss

of Mars's atmosphere. The planet no longer has a global magnetic field to deflect the solar wind, which is consequently free

to interact unhindered with atoms of atmospheric gas and sweep them out to space.

Credits: DLR/FU Berlin/ESA 2003

Radio link
- MaRS (Mars Radio Science Experiment)

MaRS will use the radio signals that convey data and instructions between the spacecraft and Earth to probe the planet's

ionosphere, atmosphere, surface and even the interior.
Information on the interior will be gleaned from the planet's gravity field, which will be calculated from changes in the

velocity of the spacecraft relative to Earth. Surface roughness will be deduced from the way in which the radio waves are

reflected from the Martian surface.

Credits: DLR/FU Berlin/ESA 2003

Mamers Valles, nadir view (crop)
The High-Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) onboard the ESA spacecraft Mars Express obtained images focusing on a depression

that displays a crater at the end of the long, winding valley, Mamers Valles.
The data was obtained on 5 August 2006 with a ground resolution of approximately 14 m/pixel. The image is centred at

approximately 39° north and 17° east on the planet.

Image credit: DLR/FU Berlin

Mars Express Images Gallery

ESA website

ESA photolibrary for registered professionals

Launch: 10 June 2003
Name: Mars Exploration Rover - Spirit (MER-A)

Country: US
Result: Success
Reason: Operating lifetime of more than 15 times original warranty

MER-A (Mars Exploration Rover - A), known as Spirit, is the first of the two rovers of NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Mission.

It landed successfully on Mars on 04:35 Ground UTC on January 4, 2004, three weeks before its twin Opportunity (MER-B) landed

on the other side of the planet. Its name was chosen through a NASA-sponsored student essay competition.

The rover has continued to function effectively over seventeen times longer than NASA planners expected, allowing it to

perform extensive geological analysis of Martian rocks and planetary surface features; as of 2008 its mission is ongoing. An

archive of approximately weekly updates on its status can be found at the NASA/JPL website. Initial scientific results from

the first phase of the mission (roughly, the 90-sol prime mission) were published in a special issue of the journal Science

Apollo Hills panorama from the Spirit landing site

All Spirit's RAW images:


Launch: 25 January 2004
Name: Mars Exploration Rover - Opportunity (MER-B)

Country: US
Result: Success
Reason: Operating lifetime of more than 15 times original warranty

MER-B (Mars Exploration Rover - B), known as Opportunity, is the second of the two rovers of NASA's Mars Exploration Rover

Mission. It landed successfully at Meridiani Planum on Mars on January 25, 2004 05:05 Ground UTC (circa 13:15 local time),

three weeks after its twin Spirit (MER-A) had landed on the other side of the planet.[1] Its name was chosen through a

NASA-sponsored student essay competition. The rover has continued to function effectively over fifteen times longer than NASA

planners expected, allowing it to perform extensive geological analysis of Martian rocks and planetary surface features; as

of 2008 its mission is ongoing. An archive of updates on its status can be found at the NASA/JPL website; the updates were

weekly initially but were reduced to six per year as the mission progressed.

Eagle crater shows outcroppings, which are thought to have water origins.

All Opportunity's RAW images:

posted on Jun, 22 2008 @ 09:16 PM
Launch: 12 August 2005
Name: Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter
Country: US
Result: Siccess
Reason: Returned more than 26 terabits of data (more than all other Mars missions combined)
On November 17, 2006 NASA announced the successful test of the MRO as an orbital communications relay. Using the NASA rover

"Spirit" as the point of origin for the transmission, the MRO acted as a relay for transmitting data back to Earth.

NASA's New Mars Orbiter Returns Test Images
March 24, 2006

The first test images of Mars from NASA's newest spacecraft provide a tantalizing preview of what the orbiter will reveal when its main science mission begins next fall.

Three cameras on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter were pointed at Mars at 8:36 p.m. PST Thursday, while the spacecraft collected 40 minutes of engineering test data. The cameras are the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment, the Context

Camera and the Mars Color Imager.

These high-resolution images of Mars are thrilling, and unique given the early morning time-of-day. The final orbit of

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter will be over Mars in the mid-afternoon, like Mars Global Surveyor and Mars Odyssey,

Alfred McEwen, University of Arizona, Tucson, principal investigator for the orbiter's High Resolution Imaging Science

Experiment camera.

First Mars Image from Newly Arrived Camera - 03.24.06


[edit on 22/6/2008 by internos]

posted on Jun, 22 2008 @ 09:32 PM
reply to post by internos
Simply put WOW internos

You go away for few days and you come back with this increble ensemble *** of pure unadulterated information ****
a star and a flag
I am afraid to think what might happen if you go away for a month--We won't stand our ground!!!from the dizziness.
Just goes to show you a well organized and informative thread could be long.
keep it comming we need more post like these.

posted on Jun, 22 2008 @ 10:49 PM

And does anyone really wonder why YOU are a Conspiracy Master???

Thank you for bringing to us, all of this incredible information and so well laid out to boot.

You rock!

[edit on 22-6-2008 by greeneyedleo]

posted on Jun, 23 2008 @ 07:35 AM
Thanks Internos, a great contribution. star and flag.

posted on Jun, 23 2008 @ 11:30 AM

Internos... this could be - nay - SHOULD BE a book! You are by far ATS's finest asset. As usual, I'm completely blown away by your presentation.

I find the Cosmos 419 'error' to be absolutely intriguing. How a person/s in such a position of high responsibility could program a delay trigger of 1.5 years as opposed to 1.5 hours is beyond me. I would be curious to know if that person or team ever worked in aerospace again!

I also love Zond 2. I can only wonder if that's where they sourced the design of R2D2.. LOL! Sadly, it seems "the force" wasn't with Zond 2

This was so great that I saved the page to my hard drive for prosperity!

Star & Flag Good Buddy!


posted on Jun, 23 2008 @ 03:34 PM

Extremely awesome post! It's because of high-quality work like yours that I recommend this site to all my friends! Great job!

posted on Jun, 23 2008 @ 07:32 PM
Amazing job, Internos!!!

Your really one of the best (if not the best) researcher on ATS!!

You never cease to amaze me!

About the content of this amazing posts, they show why people were so happy that Phoenix had made a successful landing, with such a high rate of failures it does not surprise me.

posted on Jun, 23 2008 @ 08:19 PM
Everytime you post I can only feel grateful for having you around.
But this time you have outdone yourself once again, I`m speechless this thread is worth more than points, the owners of this board are very lucky to have you here.

tanti auguri!!!

[edit on 23-6-2008 by Camilo1]

posted on Jun, 23 2008 @ 10:14 PM

Amazing, thank you for all the information!

I've been meaning to ask a question about the Mars Mission.

Before 2000 or maybe it was 2000, I remember watching CNN and NASA was talking about the mission to Mars. Now, what caught my attention was that they announced that they had plans to send a maned mission to Mars in 2018-19. Years pass, the world changed and the labeling of the new century was branded as TERROR.

Then to my surprise NASA got really quiet about the mission. The page wasn't updated for months, years... I stopped looking. Then I just used the year and date as a reference point in conversations about the missions to Mars.

To my shock a few years ago or was it just a year ago, President Bush announced to the world that they (NASA) were sending people BACK to the Moon and start building bases etc. When? 2018. Yep, we went from Landing on the surface of Mars with the first humans, in 2018 to landing on the Moon... The phrase "been there, done that" comes to mind.

I didn't understand so I went back online to look for the sites where the mission reports and plans were illustrated. Guess what... they were all gone. Nothing on Nasa's site even MENTIONS the Mars Man mission in 2018.

So? What happened?

First of all, let's ask a few questions :

1. WHY oh WHY are we going back to the moon?
2. If we've BEEN to the moon in the 60s and 70s, why will it take SO long to get back?
3. If we've already landed on the moon shouldn't it be a piece of cake with modern technology to send a few people up there and show the world in HD quality ONCE and for all that we DID land on the moon?
4. WHY has it taken SO long to get BACK to the moon?
5. Could they be sending people to the moon to plant evidence that the US did in fact land on the moon?
6. Why are we investing so much to go to the moon now when we could go to Mars?

I can't help but think of the phrase which I think applies for NASA's so called Space Race... "IF YOU CAN'T MAKE IT... FAKE IT".
Yep, the controlled environment they've been in and how they've televised the event just didn't make sense. But then that's a entirely different story, if we've landed on the moon or not. I'm very skeptical about that mainly because of the era it was in and now the announcement that it's so difficult to go to the moon that we need over 10 years (from the date of announcement) to get back... makes no sense.

I mean the way we landed on the moon with the primitive technology compared to ours today is simply put fantastic. If we could pull that off then... why is it so hard for us to do it now?

That's the real question.

(I don't want to start a "did we land on the moon or not" debate, I just wish to know what happened to the Mission to Mars in 2018? And why is it so hard to get BACK to the moon?)


posted on Jun, 23 2008 @ 10:16 PM
Again, internos... Thank you, it's a wonderful thing to have someone like you post such detailed information to share with us.

Do you have a site dedicated to your awesomeness?

I wish you a great week and thanks for your topic...

posted on Jun, 23 2008 @ 11:01 PM

Originally posted by Element-115

First of all, let's ask a few questions :

1. WHY oh WHY are we going back to the moon?
2. If we've BEEN to the moon in the 60s and 70s, why will it take SO long to get back?
3. If we've already landed on the moon shouldn't it be a piece of cake with modern technology to send a few people up there and show the world in HD quality ONCE and for all that we DID land on the moon?
4. WHY has it taken SO long to get BACK to the moon?
5. Could they be sending people to the moon to plant evidence that the US did in fact land on the moon?
6. Why are we investing so much to go to the moon now when we could go to Mars?

I can't help but think of the phrase which I think applies for NASA's so called Space Race... "IF YOU CAN'T MAKE IT... FAKE IT".
Yep, the controlled environment they've been in and how they've televised the event just didn't make sense. But then that's a entirely different story, if we've landed on the moon or not. I'm very skeptical about that mainly because of the era it was in and now the announcement that it's so difficult to go to the moon that we need over 10 years (from the date of announcement) to get back... makes no sense.

I mean the way we landed on the moon with the primitive technology compared to ours today is simply put fantastic. If we could pull that off then... why is it so hard for us to do it now?

That's the real question.

(I don't want to start a "did we land on the moon or not" debate, I just wish to know what happened to the Mission to Mars in 2018? And why is it so hard to get BACK to the moon?)


1. We could be going back to moon for various reasons, to continue further study and perhaps study the the possibility of life on the moon. Maybe.
2. Things like these cost money. Lots and lots of money. It will take large amounts of time to build and plot out such tremendous planning.
3. No it shouldn't be a piece of cake, we will have to make sure the technology is safer than before. Make sure it's better and once costs lots and lots of $$$$.
4. Didn't you ask that to a certain degree already?
5. Perhaps if you really are that skeptical. Maybe it's to continue STUDY of the MOON.
6. We are already capturing much information from mars thanks to the Phoenix. We may not be able to land a human on that planet, yet. But we have already with the moon so let's try our best to study that first.

Of course those are just my opinions and input.

posted on Jun, 23 2008 @ 11:10 PM

I swear I learn so much everytime I go on this site, great post man... really helps people understand the time and effort put into checkin out the redrock!

posted on Jun, 23 2008 @ 11:49 PM
reply to post by GorehoundLarry


Don't get me wrong... anything that would make us go back out into space is a treat. So I'm all for it... I just wish we were going to Mars. Also I don't understand why they changed the dates.

Thanks for the response though.

posted on Jun, 24 2008 @ 01:38 AM
reply to post by Element-115

No probs, I could be wrong and it could all really just be a big conspiracy, but who knows. Meh!!!

posted on Jun, 24 2008 @ 02:11 AM

Originally posted by GorehoundLarry
reply to post by Element-115

No probs, I could be wrong and it could all really just be a big conspiracy, but who knows. Meh!!!

I'm confident that there's a lot of conspiracies out there... I'm sure of it...

But sometimes, like now I have had it, with conspiracies up the wazoo!!!

Couldn't we just get ONE or TWO solved already?

posted on Jun, 24 2008 @ 10:48 AM
wow ... great thread man .... you gave more data on one page than i ever saw in my life
great work man ... thanks for your time

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