Home > Space > Mars > Exploration of Mars


    Below you'll find a summary of all of the spacecraft that have been sent to Mars. Credit for this list goes to Calvin J. Hamilton author of Views of the Solar System.


    • Mars 1960A - USSR Mars Probe - (October 10, 1960)
      • Failed to reach Earth orbit.

    • Mars 1960B - USSR Mars Probe - (October 14, 1960)
      • Failed to reach Earth orbit.

    • Mars 1962A - USSR Mars Flyby - (October 24, 1962)
      • Spacecraft failed to leave Earth orbit after the final rocket stage exploded.

    • Mars 1 - USSR Mars Flyby - 893 kg - (November 1, 1962)
      • Communications failed en route.

    • Mars 1962B - USSR Mars lander - (November 4, 1962)
      • Failed to leave Earth orbit.

    • Mariner 3 - USA Mars Flyby - 260 kg - (November 5, 1964)
      • Mars flyby attempt. Solar panels did not open, preventing flyby. Mariner 3 is now in a solar orbit.

    • Mariner 4 - USA Mars Flyby - 260 kg - (November 28, 1964 - December 20, 1967)
      • Mariner 4 arrived at Mars on July 14, 1965 and passed within 9,920 kilometers of the planet's surface. It returned 22 close-up photos showing a cratered surface. The thin atmosphere was confirmed to be composed of carbon dioxide in the range of 5-10 mbar. A small intrinsic magnetic field was detected. Mariner 4 is now in a solar orbit.

    • Zond 2 - USSR Mars Flyby - (November 30, 1964)
      • Contact was lost en route.

    • Mariner 6 - USA Mars Flyby - 412 kg - (February 24, 1969)
      • Mariner 6 arrived at Mars on February 24, 1969, and passed within 3,437 kilometers of the planet's equatorial region. Mariner 6 and 7 took measurements of the surface and atmospheric temperature, surface molecular composition, and pressure of the atmosphere. In addition, over 200 pictures were taken. Mariner 6 is now in a solar orbit.

    • Mariner 7 - USA Mars Flyby - 412 kg - (March 27, 1969)
      • Mariner 7 arrived at Mars on August 5, 1969, and passed within 3,551 kilometers of the planet's south pole region. Mariner 6 and 7 took measurements of the surface and atmospheric temperature, surface molecular composition, and pressure of the atmosphere. In addition, over 200 pictures were taken. Mariner 7 is now in a solar orbit.

    • Mariner 8 - USA Mars Flyby - (May 8, 1971)
      • Failed to reach Earth orbit.

    • Kosmos 419 - USSR Mars Probe - (May 10, 1971)
      • Failed to leave Earth orbit.

    • Mars 2 - USSR Mars Orbiter/Soft Lander - 4,650 kg - (May 19, 1971)
      • The Mars 2 lander was released from the orbiter on November 27, 1971. It crashed-landed because its breaking rockets failed - no data was returned and the first human artifact was created on Mars. The orbiter returned data until 1972.

    • Mars 3 - USSR Mars Orbiter/Soft Lander - 4,643 kg - (May 28, 1971)
      • Mars 3 arrived at Mars on December 2, 1971. The lander was released and became the first successful landing on Mars. It failed after relaying 20 seconds of video data to the orbiter. The Mars 3 orbiter returned data until August, 1972. It made measurements of surface temperature and atmospheric composition.

    • Mariner 9 - USA Mars Orbiter - 974 kg - (May 30, 1971 - 1972)
      • Mariner 9 arrived at Mars on November 3, 1971 and was placed into orbit on November 24. This was the first US spacecraft to enter an orbit around a planet other than the Moon. At the time of its arrival a huge dust storm was in progress on the planet. Many of the scientific experiments were delayed until the storm had subsided. The first hi-resolution images of the moons Phobos and Deimos were taken. River and channel like features were discovered. Mariner 9 is still in Martian orbit.

    • Mars 4 - USSR Mars Orbiter - 4,650 kg - (July 21, 1973)
      • Mars 4 arrived at Mars on February, 1974, but failed to go into orbit due to a malfunction of its breaking engine. It flew past the planet with in 2,200 kilometers of the surface. It returned some images and data.

    • Mars 5 - USSR Mars Orbiter - 4,650 kg - (July 25, 1973)
      • Mars 5 entered into orbit around Mars on February 12, 1974. It acquired imaging data for the Mars 6 and 7 missions.

    • Mars 6 - USSR Mars Orbiter/Soft Lander - 4,650 kg - (August 5, 1973)
      • On March 12, 1974, Mars 6 entered into orbit and launched its lander. The lander returned atmospheric descent data, but failed on its way down.

    • Mars 7 - USSR Mars Orbiter/Soft Lander - 4,650 kg - (August 9, 1973)
      • On March 6, 1974, Mars 7 failed to go into orbit about Mars and the lander missed the planet. Carrier and lander are now in a solar orbit.

    • Viking 1 - USA Mars Orbiter/Lander - 3,399 kg - (August 20, 1975 - August 7, 1980)
      • Viking 1 and 2 were designed after the Mariner spacecraft. They consisted of an orbiter and lander. The orbiter weighed 900 kg and the lander 600 kg. Viking 1 went into orbit about Mars on June 19, 1976. The lander touched down on July 20, 1976 on the western slopes of Chryse Planitia. Both landers had experiments to search for Martian micro-organism. The results of these experiments are still being debated. The landers provided detailed color panoramic views of the Martian terrain. They also monitored the Martian weather. The orbiters mapped the planet's surface, acquiring over 52,000 images. Viking 1 orbiter was deactivate on August 7, 1980 when it ran out of altitude-control propellant. Viking 1 lander was accidentally shut down on November 13, 1982, and communication was never regained.

    • Viking 2 - USA Mars Orbiter/Lander - 3,399 kg - (September 9, 1975 - July 25, 1978)
      • Viking 1 and 2 were designed after the Mariner spacecraft. They consisted of an orbiter and lander. The orbiter weighed 900 kg and the lander 600 kg. Viking 2 went into orbit about Mars on July 24, 1976. The lander touched down on August 7, 1976 at Utopia Planitia. Both landers had experiments to search for Martian micro-organism. The results of these experiments are still being debated. The landers provided detailed color panoramic views of the Martian terrain. They also monitored the Martian weather. The orbiters mapped the planet's surface, acquiring over 52,000 images. Viking 2 orbiter was deactivate on July 25, 1978 when it ran out of altitude-control propellant. Viking 2 lander used Viking 1 orbiter as a communications relay, and had to be shut down at the same time as the orbiter on August 7, 1980.

    • Phobos 1 - USSR Mars Orbiter/Lander - 5,000 kg - (July 7, 1988)
      • Phobos 1 was sent to investigate the Martian moon Phobos. It was lost en route to Mars through a command error on September 2, 1988.

    • Phobos 2 - USSR Phobos Flyby/Lander - 5,000 kg - (July 12, 1988)
      • Phobos 2 arrived at Mars and was inserted into orbit on January 30, 1989. The orbiter moved within 800 kilometers of Phobos and then failed. The lander never made it to Phobos.

    • Mars Observer - USA Mars Orbiter (September 25, 1992)
      • Communication was lost with Mars Observer on August 21, 1993, just before it was to be inserted into orbit.

    • Mars Global Surveyor - USA Mars Orbiter (Fall 1996)
      • The Mars Global Surveyor is scheduled for launch in the late fall of 1996. It was initiated due to the loss of the Mars Observer. The basic spacecraft design is after the Mars Observer.



 
 



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