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Document TopPast Missions


Mars 1960A
Country Soviet Union
Launch Date 1960-Oct-10
On-orbit dry mass: 640 kg
Launcher A-2-e

This mission was the first attempt at a Mars probe, unreported by the Soviet Union. It is rumored that Nikita Krushchev was going to announce the mission when he addressed the United Nations. After launch, the third stage failed. The spacecraft reached an altitude of 120 km before reentry.

Mars 1960B
Country Soviet Union
Launch Date 1960-Oct-14
On-orbit dry mass: 640 kg
Launcher A-2-e

A second attempt with a duplicate spacecraft four days later also failed to reach orbit.

Sputnik 29
Mission name Sputnik 29
Country Soviet Union
Launch Date 1962-Oct-24

Sputnik 29 was an attempted Mars flyby mission. The spacecraft exploded after launch.

Mars 1
Country Soviet Union
Launch Date 1962-Nov-1
On-orbit dry mass: 893.5 kg
Launcher A-2-e
Photograph

Mars 1 was to fly by Mars at a distance of about 11000 km. On 21 March 1963, communications with the probe were lost. Mars 1 flew by the planet at a distance of 193000 km on June 19, 1963.

Sputnik 31
Country Soviet Union
Launch Date 1962-Nov-04

Sputnik 31 was an attempted Mars lander mission. The probe failed to leave Earth orbit.

Mariner 3
Country United States
Launch Date 1964-Nov-05
On-orbit dry mass: 260 kg
Launcher Atlas-Agena

Mariner 3 was to perform a Mars flyby, but a protective fiberglass shroud failed on launch and the spacecraft did not attain orbit.

Mariner 4
Country United States
Launch Date 1964-Nov-28
On-orbit dry mass: 260 kg
Launcher Atlas-Agena
Photograph Line drawing

After 7.5 months of flight Mariner 4 flew 9846 km from the Martian surface. The camera recorded 22 pictures, representing about 1% of the planet's surface. The images were recorded on a strip of photographic negative film, which was then processed and scanned electronically and stored as a 200 by 200 pixel 64 gray scale image on the onboard tape recorder. All images were transmitted twice to insure no data was missing or corrupt. The images required 8.3 hours to be transmitted to Earth at 8.3 bits per second. The images returned showed a cratered terrain. No magnetic field was detected.

The Mariner 4 spacecraft consisted of an octagonal magnesium frame, with four solar panels attached. The octagonal frame housed the electronic equipment, propulsion system, and attitude control gas supplies. A scan platform for the camera was mounted on the underside of the probe. The science experiments were mounted on the outside of the frame. Science instruments included a magnetometer, dust detector, cosmic ray telescope, trapped radiation detector, solar plasma probe, and an ionization chamber/Geiger counter.

Zond 2
Country Soviet Union
Launch Date 1964-Nov-30
On-orbit dry mass 890 kg

After a mid-course maneuver, communications with the spacecraft were lost in early May 1965. The spacecraft flew by Mars on 6 August 1965 at a distance of 1500 km.

Zond 3
Country Soviet Union
Launch Date 1965-July-18
On-orbit dry mass 960 kg

Zond 3 flew by Luna and captured images of the far side. It then continued out to the Mars orbital plane as an engineering test of the ion engines and communication systems.

Mariner 6
Country United States
Launch Date 1969-Feb-24
On-orbit dry mass 411.8 Kg
Launcher Atlas-Centaur
Photograph

The mission's primary objectives were the study of the surface and atmosphere of Mars during close flybys. Mariner 6 also had the objective of providing data for use in programming the Mariner 7 encounter. Each spacecraft carried a wide- and narrow-angle television camera, an infrared spectroscope, an infrared radiometer, and an ultraviolet spectroscope.

Mariner 6 was similar in design to Mariner 4; however, enhanced communication and computer systems were available. Data storage and transmission rates were increased to take full advantage of the brief flyby time. Beginning on 29 July, 49 approach images were taken using the narrow-angle camera. In the near-encounter phase 26 close-up images were transmitted back to Earth. Closest approach was 3431 km from the Martian surface.

Mariner 7
Country United States
Launch Date 1969-March-27
On-orbit dry mass 411.80 kg
Launcher Atlas-Centaur

Mariner 7 was identical to Mariner 6. Just before closest approach 93 images were taken and transmitted. Based on Mariner 6 images, Mariner 7 was reprogrammed to take more dayside images. On 5 August, Mariner 7 achieved a closest approach of 3430 km; 33 near-encounter images were taken.

Together the Mariner 6 and 7 probes imaged 20% of the Martian surface. Infrared experiments showed that the south polar cap was composed of carbon dioxide.

Mars 1969A
Country Soviet Union
Launch Date 1969-March-27
On-orbit dry mass 3495 kg
Launcher D-1-e

This mission was never officially announced. The third stage of the launcher exploded 438 seconds after launch.

Mars 1969BA
Country Soviet Union
Launch Date 1969-April-2(14)
On-orbit dry mass 3495 kg
Launcher D-1-e

This mission was never officially announced. The launcher failed almost immediately after liftoff.

Mariner 8
Country United States
Launch Date 1971-May-9
On-orbit dry mass 558.8 kg
Launcher Atlas-Centaur

Mariner 8 was intended to go into Mars orbit and return images and data. On launch the upper stage began to oscillate in pitch and shut down 365 seconds after launch. 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.

Cosmos 419
Country Soviet Union
Launch Date 1971-May-10
On-orbit dry mass 4650 kg
Launcher D-1-e

This launch was intended to be a Mars orbiting mission. The spacecraft was probably similar to the orbiter section of the Mars 2 mission. The probe failed to leave orbit, the spacecraft re-entered Earth's atmosphere 2 days later on 12 May 1971.

Mars 2
Country Soviet Union
Launch Date 1971-May-19
On-orbit dry mass 2265 kg
Launcher D-1-e
Artist depiction

The Mars 2 and Mars 3 missions consisted of identical probes each with an orbiter and lander component. The probe was 4.1 meters high, 5.9 meters across the two solar panel wings, and had a base diameter of 2 meters. The propulsion system was located at the bottom of the cylindrical spacecraft body and the lander was mounted on top. The two solar arrays extended from the sides and a 2.5-meter diameter parabolic high-gain communications antenna was also mounted on the side. Navigation instruments were located around the bottom of the craft. Mars 2 released the descent module 4.5 hours before reaching Mars on 27 November 1971. The lander crashed due to a landing system failure at 45 S, 302 W. The orbiter entered a 1380 x 24,940 km, 18 hour orbit about Mars. The orbiter carried an infrared radiometer to determine surface temperatures. Infrared, ultraviolet and visible photometers conducted spectral analysis of the atmosphere. A phototelevision unit with several filters returned 1000 x 1000 pixel images with a resolution of 10 to 100 meters. Mars 2 completed 362 orbits before being shut down.

Mars 3
Country Soviet Union
Launch Date 1971-May-28
On-orbit dry mass 2265 kg
Launcher D-1-e

Mars 3 was identical to Mars 2. The lander achieved a soft landing at 45 S, 158 W and began operations. However, after 20 seconds the probe stopped functioning, perhaps due to a dust storm. The orbiter was placed into an 11-day orbit due to a fuel shortage. Mars 3 completed 20 orbits of Mars The Mars 2 and 3 probes sent back a total of 60 pictures. Atomic hydrogen and oxygen were found in the upper atmosphere. Surface temperatures ranging from -110 C to +13 C were recorded.

Mariner 9
Country United States
Launch Date 1971-May-30
On-orbit dry mass 558.8 kg
Launcher Atlas-Centaur
Line drawing

The Mariner 9 spacecraft was built on an octagonal magnesium frame, as were the previous mariner missions. Since the probe was to enter Mars orbit it needed a more substantial propulsion unit. A gimbaled engine capable of five restarts and fueled by monomethyl hydrazine and nitrogen tetroxide was mounted on the top of the frame. A scan platform was situated on the bottom of the frame. Mounted on the platform were wide- and narrow-angle TV cameras, infrared radiometer, ultraviolet spectrometer, and infrared interferometer spectrometer. Imaging of the surface of Mars by Mariner 9 was delayed by one of the largest global storms ever observed on Mars. When the storm abated mapping operations began, returning 7329 images covering the entire planet. The spacecraft gathered data on the atmospheric composition, density, pressure, and temperature and also the surface composition, temperature, gravity, and topography of Mars.

Mars 4
Country Soviet Union
Launch Date 1973-July-21
On-orbit dry mass 2270 kg
Launcher D-1-e

Mars 4 was intended as a Mars orbiter however a computer chip failure prevented the retro rockets from slowing the probe sufficiently for insertion into Mars orbit. Mars 4 flew by Mars at a distance of 2200 km.

Mars 5
Country Soviet Union
Launch Date 1973-July-25
On-orbit dry mass 2270 kg
Launcher D-1-e

Mars 5 was inserted into an elliptical 1755 km x 32555 km, 24 hour, 53 minute orbit around Mars and was intended to act as a communications link between the Mars 6/7 landers and Earth. After 22 orbits the transmitter failed. Sixty images were returned with resolutions of 1 km to 100 m. An infrared radiometer was used to measure surface temperature. Photometric studies were carried out to determine carbon dioxide altitude profiles and water vapor concentrations in the atmosphere. The UV photometer detected an ozone layer, which was one thousand times less than that of Earth's.

Mars 6
Country Soviet Union
Launch Date 1973-August-5
On-orbit dry mass 635 kg
Launcher D-1-e
Mars 6/7 photograph

Mars 6 entered the Martian atmosphere and began transmitting 224 seconds of data before transmissions ceased. Mars 6 landed at 23.90 S, 19.42 W in the Margaritifer Sinus region of Mars. A temperature/pressure profile of the atmosphere was obtained - however, all stored data was lost when Earth-probe contact failed.

Mars 7
Country Soviet Union
Launch Date 1973-August-9
On-orbit dry mass 1200 kg
Launcher D-1-e

Mars 7, identical to it's numeric predecessor, separated 4 hours before encounter and missed Mars by 1300 km. The intended landing region was 50 S, 28 W.

Viking 1 & 2
Country United States
Launch Date 1975-August-20 / 1975-Sept-9
Orbiter dry mass 883 kg
Lander dry mass 590 kg
Launcher Titan 3e
Orbiter line drawing Lander line drawing

The primary objectives of the Viking orbiters were to transport the landers to Mars, find suitable landing sites and act as communications relays for the landers. The orbiter was based on the earlier Mariner 9 spacecraft with an attached bioshield/aeroshell containing a lander. Scientific instruments for conducting imaging, atmospheric water vapor and infrared thermal mapping were enclosed in a scan platform. Two redundant computers controlled the Viking orbiter, each with a 4K memory. The lander consisted of a hexagonal aluminum base supported on three legs. Two radioisotope thermal generator (RTG) units supplemented by four nickel-cadmium rechargeable batteries for peak power loads provided power. A high-gain parabolic antenna and an omnidirectional low-gain antenna could be used to communicate directly with the Earth. An UHF antenna provided a one-way relay to the orbiter. The lander computer had a 6000-word memory. The lander carried two 360-degree cylindrical scan cameras. A sampler arm could collect soil samples for the biology experiment and a gas chromatograph mass spectrometer. The meteorology boom contained temperature, wind direction, and wind velocity sensors.

Viking 1 was inserted into Mars orbit on 19 June 1976. Imaging of candidate sites began and the landing site was selected. The lander separated from the orbiter on 20 July and landed at Chryse Planitia. Biology experiments showed signs of soil activity, however the GC/MS experiments failed to find any signs of organic compounds. The Viking 1 Lander was named the Thomas Mutch Memorial Station in January 1982. It operated until 13 November 1982 when a faulty command sent by ground control resulted in loss of contact.

The Viking 2 orbiter was inserted into Mars orbit on 7 August 1976. Operations included close approaches to Deimos in October 1977. The Orbiter was turned off on 25 July 1978 after returning almost 16,000 images in 706 orbits around Mars. The Viking 2 Lander touched down in Utopia Planitia at 48.3 N and 226.0 W. Viking 2 confirmed the data, which was gathered at the Viking 1 site. The Viking 2 Lander operated on the surface for 1281 Martian days and was turned off on April 11, 1980 when its batteries failed.

Phobos 1
Country Soviet Union
Launch Date 1988 July-7
On-orbit mass 2600 kg
Launcher D-1-e

The Phobos missions were to conduct surface and atmospheric studies of Mars, and study the surface composition of the Martian moon Phobos. On the way to Mars contact was lost with the probe, resulting in the spacecraft orienting the solar arrays away from the Sun, depleting the batteries.

Phobos 2
Country Soviet Union
Launch Date 1988 July-21
On-orbit mass 2600 kg
Launcher D-1-e
Artist depiction Line drawing

The Phobos 2 mission was a duplicate of the Phobos 1 probe. 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, contact was lost.

Mars Observer
Country United States
Launch Date 1992-Sept-25
On-orbit mass 1018 kg
Launcher Titan 34D
Artist Depiction

Mars Observer was designed to study the geoscience and climate of Mars. The Mars observer probe was based on the Satcom-K and DMSP/TIROS spacecraft. The rectangular bus section was 2.1 x 1.5 x 1.1 m. Power was provided by a six panel solar arrays. During the cruise phase, however, only four panels were deployed (due to the proximity of the spacecraft to the sun). During periods when the spacecraft was in Mars' shadow, energy was to be provided by two Ni-Cd batteries. Contact with Mars Observer was lost on August 21, 1993, three days before scheduled orbit insertion.

Mars 96
Country Russia
Launch Date 1996-Nov-16
On-orbit dry mass 3159 kg
Line drawing

Mars 96 was based on the Phobos probe design. Two small stations and two surface penetrators were to investigate Mars. The Mars 96 spacecraft failed to achieve insertion into Mars cruise trajectory and crashed into the Pacific Ocean.

Mars Pathfinder
Country United States
Launch Date 1996-Dec-4
Launcher Delta 7925
Lander line drawing Rover line drawing

The Mars Pathfinder consisted of a stationary lander and surface rover. The mission's primary objective was demonstrating the feasibility of low-cost landing and exploration of the Martian surface. Pathfinder entered the Martian atmosphere without going into orbit around the planet and landed on Mars with the aid of parachutes, rockets and airbags. Atmospheric measurements were taken as the probe approached the surface. Upon landing, three triangular solar panels unfolded and the rover was driven onto the surface.

The rover "Sojourner" was a six-wheeled vehicle, controlled by an Earth-based operator, who used images obtained by both the rover and lander systems. Sojourner carried an Alpha-Proton X-ray Spectrometer (APXS), stereo black and white front cameras and a black and white rear camera. The rover was only active during the day and hibernated at night. Soil compositions were similar to Viking results, suggesting global soil formation mechanisms. Images of the landing site are consistent with fluvial processes suggesting a warmer wetter past. The lander and rover operated until communication was lost for unknown reasons on 27 September 1997.

Mars Climate Orbiter
Country United States
Launch Date 1998-Dec-11
Probe dry mass 338 kg
Launcher Delta 7425
Artist depiction Line drawing

The Mars Climate Orbiter was to have studied Martian climate, specializing in the observation of daily weather and long term changes to surface features. The Mars Climate Orbiter Color Imager (MARCI) would have acquired daily atmospheric weather images and high-resolution surface images. The Pressure Modulated Infrared Radiometer (PMIRR) would have allowed measurement of the atmospheric temperature, water vapor abundance, and dust concentration.

The spacecraft reached Mars on 23 September 1999, but what is currently assessed to be a navigation error caused the craft to descend too deeply into the atmosphere, where, JPL scientists suspect, the Orbiter was destroyed by the frictional heat. Upon Mars orbit insertion, it was to have immediately begun aerobraking, acheiving a nearly circular sun-synchronous polar orbit with the use of it's solar panel for resistance. By 1 December 1999, the aerobraking phase would be complete, the probe ready to act as communications relay for the Mars Polar Lander -- its own mission beginning some weeks later.

Mars Polar Lander
Country United States
Launch Date 1999-Jan-3
Probe mass 290 kg
Launcher Delta 7425
Artist depiction Line drawing

The Mars Polar Lander is expected to touch down near the Martian South Pole on December 3 1999. The lander will make a direct entry into Mars' atmosphere protected by an ablation heat shield. At an altitude of about 8-km the parachute will be deployed. Just before heat shield is jettisoned the descent imager (MARDI) will turn on, giving us images of the landing site. Final descent engines will bring the lander to the surface. The lander will touch down during the late southern spring season, during which the Sun will always be above the horizon at the landing site providing solar power. The Mars Polar Lander is built on a hexagonal base with three landing legs. Power will be supplied by solar panels extending out from the base. Mounted on top of the base are the robotic arm, the stereo imager and the meteorology mast. The Mars Volatiles and Climate Surveyor (MVACS) package contains a gas analyzer, which will work in conjunction with the imager and robotic arm. The Russian Space Agency provided a laser ranger (LIDAR) package that will be used to measure dust and haze in the Martian atmosphere. A microphone will record the sounds of Mars. The Mars Global Surveyor and the Mars Climate Orbiter can be used as relays to communicate with Earth. A medium gain dish antenna on the lander can be used as a back up link to Earth.

Deep Space 2
Country United States
Launch date 1999-Jan-3
Photograph Line drawing

The Deep Space 2 mission consists of two identical probes attached to the Mars Polar Lander cruise stage. Each probe is enclosed in a ceramic aeroshell, which is designed to protect the probe from atmospheric entry and shatter on impact. The probe will penetrate the surface of Mars and send back data on the sub-surface properties. The aftbody of the probe remains on the surface and contains batteries, pressure sensors, atmospheric accelerometer, and communications equipment. A Sun detector on the aftbody will be used to verify that the aftbody remained on the surface after landing. The forebody, or penetrator, is connected to the aftbody by a flexible cable. Depending on the hardness of the surface the forebody may penetrate to a depth of up to one meter. An accelerometer in the forebody will provide data on the hardness and layering of the Martian surface. A small drill will bring 0.1 gram of sample into the forebody. The amount of water released as the sample is heated in 10ºC increments will determine water content and mineral properties of the Martian soil. A temperature sensor in the forebody will measure thermal properties of the Martian soil. Atmospheric pressure and subsurface temperature measurements will be made every hour for the two-day nominal mission. Both probes should impact 50 to 100 km from the Mars Surveyor '98 Lander touchdown site.


Document Top Current Missions



Mars Global Surveyor
Country United States
Launch date 1996-Nov-7
Probe mass 1060 kg
Launcher Delta 7925
Line drawing

The Mars Global Surveyor's primary mission of mapping is best done in a circular orbit. Rather than take additional fuel, the probe used aerobraking to convert its original elliptical capture orbit into a nearly circular 2-hour polar orbit. The 378-km orbit will be sun synchronous so that all images will be taken with the same illumination. Problems with the solar panels delayed the aerobraking procedure for one year. The mapping orbit was achieved in March of 1999. A thermal emission spectrometer will analyze light emitted and reflected from the surface and atmosphere to produce thermal maps. A laser altimeter will be used to produce topographical maps of Mars. The magnetometers have found frozen bands of remnant magnetic field in the crust of the Southern Hemisphere. The spacecraft will also be used as a data relay for later U.S. and international missions.

Nozomi
Country Japan
Launch Date 1998-July-3
Probe dry mass 258 kg
Launcher M-5
Artist depiction

Nozomi's trajectory to Mars involved repeated Moon-Earth flybys for an aggregate gravitational assist. After a problem with fuel use, the spacecraft was delayed and will now reach Mars in December of 2003 rather than 1999 as originally planned. Nozomi is designed to study the Martian upper atmosphere and its interaction with the solar wind. The mission will also take images of Mars' surface.


Document Top Future Missions



Mars Surveyor 2001 Orbiter
Country United States
Launch Date 2001-March
Launcher Delta 7425
Artist depiction

The Mars Surveyor 2001 Orbiter will reach Mars in October 2001. Aerobraking will be used to transform the capture orbit into a circular sun synchronous science orbit. The Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS) experiment will map the mineralogy and morphology of the Martian surface using a high-resolution camera and a thermal infrared imaging spectrometer. The Gamma Ray Spectrometer (GRS) will map the elemental composition of the surface and determine the abundance of hydrogen in the subsurface. The Mars Radiation Environment Experiment (MARIE) will determine the radiation risk for human explorers.

Mars Surveyor 2003
Country United States
Launch Date May/June 2003
Sample return rover artist depiction

This mission will consist of a lander and an Athena class 70-kilogram rover (compared to Sojourner's 10 kilograms). The rover will be equipped with instruments and a sampling arm with which it can analyze and select interesting samples. The planned equipment includes a panoramic camera, an alpha-proton spectrometer, a thermal emission spectrometer, a Mössbauer spectrometer and a Raman spectrometer. A lander-based drill developed by the Italian Space Agency will gather subsurface samples from a depth of one to three meters. The collected samples will be returned to a small rocket on the lander, the Mars Ascent Vehicle (MAV), which will launch them into Mars orbit. The MAV will be a simple solid-fuel rocket without a guidance system. The samples will then be retrieved from orbit and returned to Earth.

Mars Express
Country ESA
Launch Date May/June 2003
Launcher Soyuz/Fregat

The Mars Express probe is expected to reach Mars in December 2003. A radar sounder on the orbiter will probe the Martian surface for signs of water. The lander, named after Charles Darwin's ship, the "Beagle", will search for signs of life on Mars. The Beagle 2 will be equipped with a mobile sampler or "mole", which can burrow under large boulders.

Mars Surveyor 2005
Country United States/France
Launch Date July/August 2005
LauncherAriane 5
Ariane 5 launch photograph

The 2005 mission will be a repeat of the 2003 mission. The lander will collect samples and place them into Mars orbit. A French-built orbiter will collect the sample containers from the 2003 and 2005 missions and return them to Earth in 2008. This sequence of missions may be repeated for different regions of Mars in the 2007/2009 and 2011/2013 launch windows. Micromissions are being planned which will ride piggyback on Ariane 5 or US launchers carrying satellites to high Earth orbit as early as 2003. Some of the proposals include the deployment of multiple penetrators, balloons or gliders or a Mars communications network.



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