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Past Robotic Missions to Mars

Revision Date: 11/27/2001

* Past Missions *
Mission Goal - Outcome
10/10/1960 USSR 1960A - Unannounced mission that resulted in a launch failure. The launch was timed to coincide with Krushchev's visit to the United Nations.
10/14/1960 USSR 1960B - Same outcome as 1960A mission.
10/24/1962 USSR 1962A - Reached Earth orbit but failed to reach Mars transfer orbit.
11/01/1962 USSR Mars 1 - A fly-by mission. Communications with the probe were lost on 03/21/1963 after it had travelled some 104.6 million kilometers towards Mars. It passed within 193,100 kilometers of Mars on 06/19/1969.
11/04/1962 USSR 1962B - Reached Earth orbit but failed to reach Mars transfer orbit.
11/05/1964 US Mariner 3 - The shroud for this fly-by mission failed on launch and the probe wound up in a solar orbit.
11/28/1964 US Mariner 4 07/14/1965 This first successful flyby of Mars returned 22 pictures of Mars while passing 9845 kilometers above the planet's surface. The most important finding of the mission was that the atmospheric pressure was between 4 and 7 mbar, based on data from the radio-occultation experiment. Contact with the probe was lost on 12/20/1967.
11/30/1964 USSR Zond 2 - Contact lost with this fly-by mission when its batteries failed on 05/05/1965. It passed within 1500 kilometers of Mars on 08/06/1965.
07/18/1965 USSR Zond 3 - Used to test communications systems out to Mars' orbital distance.
02/25/1969 US Mariner 6 07/31/1969 Flew by the Martian equator at a distance of 3,410 kilometers and returned 75 pictures of the Martian surface.
03/27/1969 US Mariner 7 08/05/1969 This flyby mission passed Mars at 3,525 kilometers and returned 126 pictures of the Martian surface.
03/27/1969 USSR 1969A - An unannounced mission that failed on launch.
04/14/1969 USSR 1969B - An unannounced mission that failed on launch.
05/08/1971 US Mariner 8 - Wound up in the ocean as a result of a launch failure.
05/10/1971 USSR Cosmos 419 - Reached Earth orbit but failed to reach Mars transfer orbit. If successful, this would have been the first Mars orbiting mission.
05/19/1971 USSR Mars 2 11/27/1971 The orbiter was successful and returned data through March 1972. However, no useful pictures were taken as Mars was in the midst of a global dust storm and the orbiter's picture taking sequence had been preprogrammed. Its other data was of poor quality. The lander failed before its touchdown near 44° South, 313° West on 11/27/1971
05/28/1971 USSR Mars 3 12/02/1971 The orbiter was successful, but the lander, which touched down on 12/02/1971 at 45° South, 158° West, only worked for 20 seconds and returned no data. The orbiter took no useful pictures as Mars was in the midst of a global dust storm and the orbiter's picture taking sequence had been preprogrammed.
05/30/1971 US Mariner 9 11/14/1971 An orbiter that mapped the surface and imaged Phobos and Deimos. Because it was not preprogrammed ad the Mars 2 and Mars 3 orbiters were, it was able to wait out the dust storm. It took 7329 pictures and returned other vital data on the Mars. It also provided the first detailed pictures of the Martian moons Phobos and Deimos. Valles Marineris was named in honor of the Mariner 9 orbiter, which returned data until 10/27/1972.
07/21/1973 USSR Mars 4 02/10/1974 An orbiter mission that turned into a flyby mission when the retrorockets failed to fire. The probe passed Mars at a distance of 2200 kilometers and returned a number of pictures.
07/25/1973 USSR Mars 5 02/12/1974 A fully successful orbiter mission that carried a variety of instruments to study Mars and returned 70 photographs over a nine day period.
08/05/1973 USSR Mars 6 03/12/1974 A lander mission in which contact was lost with the lander as it was descending to the surface. Some useful atmospheric data was returned during the descent
08/09/1973 USSR Mars 7 03/09/1974 The craft arrived at Mars but a retrorocket that didn't fire resulted in the lander missing the planet by 1300 kilometers.
08/20/1975 US Viking 1 06/19/1976 Orbiter/lander mission. The orbiter imaged the surface as well as collecting UV and IR data. The Orbiter shutdown 08/07/1980. The lander touched down on 07/20/1976 in Chryse Planitia. The lander was more successful than expected returning vital data about Mars until its last communications on 11/13/1982.
09/09/1975 US Viking 2 08/07/1976 Orbiter/lander the same as Viking 1. The orbiter worked until shutdown on 07/25/1978. The lander touched down on 09/03/1976 in Utopia Planitia and worked until it was turned off on 04/11/1980. The Viking 1 and 2 orbiters and landers returned more than 50,000 pictures.
07/07/1988 USSR Phobos 1 - An combination orbiter and lander destined for the moon Phobos, a wrong command sent to the craft in September 1988 after it had travelled 19 million kilometers resulted in its shutting down.
07/12/1988 USSR Phobos 2 01/29/1989 A combination orbiter and lander destined for the moon Phobos, the craft arrived at Mars and returned data until contact was lost on 03/27/1989 prior to releasing its lander.
09/25/1992 US Mars Observer - The orbiter mission was lost as it was going into Mars orbit on 08/21/1993.
11/16/1996 USSR/
Mars 96 - This orbiter mission, featuring an unprecedented level of international cooperation, was lost shortly after launch. The space craft reentered over the Pacific and parts of South America.
12/04/1996 US Mars Pathfinder 07/04/1997 This lander mission featured the first rover, Sojourner, to explore Mars.
12/11/1998 US Mars Climate Orbiter 09/23/1999 Also known as the Mars Surveyor 98 Orbiter, this orbiter mission was entering Mars orbit but crashed to the surface as a result of a misunderstanding over English vs Metric units. It's definitely time that the US abandon the archaic English system and go metric. The primary mission was to study the martian climate. The orbiter was also to serve as a radio relay for the Mars Polar Lander mission.
01/03/1999 US Mars Surveyor '98
Polar Lander
12/03/1999 Contact with this lander mission, which was to study surface chemistry, topology, mineralogy, and meteorology, was lost as it was about to enter the martian atmosphere on its way to the martian surface near the south pole. No definitive answer as to what happened to the mission is available The spacecraft also carried, and was to deploy, two microprobes named Deep Space 2.
01/03/1999 US New Millenium Deep Space 2 12/03/1999 This mission consisted of two surface penetrators that were carried to Mars aboard the Mars Surveyor '98 Polar Lander mission. They were to impact and penetrate the surface of Mars in the area of layered terrain that surrounds the south pole. No contact was ever established with either probe. See the entry for Mars Surveyor '98 Polar Lander.

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