Mars Observer

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The Mars Observer spacecraft was a 1,018-kilogram (2,244 lb) robotic space probe launched by NASA on September 25, 1992 to study the Martian surface, atmosphere, climate and magnetic field. During the interplanetary cruise phase, communication with the spacecraft was lost on August 21, 1993, 3 days prior to orbital insertion. Attempts to re-establish communication with the spacecraft were unsuccessful.


Contents

Mission background

History

In 1984, a high priority mission to Mars was set forth by the Solar System Exploration Committee. Titled Mars Observer, the Martian orbiter was planned to expand on the vast information already gathered by the Viking program. Preliminary mission goals expected the probe to provide planetary magnetic field data, detection of certain spectral line signitures of minerals on the surface, images of the surface at 1 meter/pixel and global elevation data.[1]

Mars Observer was originally planned to be launched in 1990 by a Space Shuttle Orbiter. The possibilty for an expendable rocket to be used was also suggested, if the spacecraft would be designed to meet certain constraints.[1] On March 12th, 1987, the mission was rescheduled for launch in 1992, in leu of other backlogged missions (Galileo, Magellan, Ulysses).[2] Along with a launch delay, budget overruns necessitated the elimination of two instruments to meet the 1992 planned launch .[3] As the development matured, the primary science objectives were finalized as:[4]

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