Encyclopedia Astronautica
Mars Global Surveyor



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Mars Global Surveyor
American Mars orbiter. One launch, 1996.11.07. Mars Global Surveyor was a polar orbiting spacecraft designed to monitor Martian global weather and provide comprehensive maps of surface topography and the distribution of minerals.

Mapping operations begin in March 1998. After collecting data for its prime mission of a full Martian year (nearly two Earth years), the spacecraft continued in operation for nearly ten years, observing changes to the Martian surface and acting as a data relay station for follow-on Mars missions.

Mars Global Surveyor was the first mission of the Mars Surveyor Program, which was an aggressive series of orbiters and landers designed to provide new global and close-up images of Mars. After the initial elliptical capture orbit, months of thruster firings and aerobraking maneuvers were used to reach the nearly circular mapping orbit.

The spacecraft used X-band uplink at 500 bps and X-band and Ka-band downlinks at 85.3 kbps maximum. The 1.5 m diameter, articulated high gain antenna was mounted on a 1.5 m boom. Four low-gain antennas provided backup communications. The dual-mode propulsion system (MMH/NTO or MMH monopropellant) had one 596 N and twelve 4.45 N thrusters. Total propellant load was 361 kg. The passive thermal control design was 3-axis stabilized with 10 mrad control and 3 mrad knowledge using reaction wheels, thrusters, sun sensors, horizon sensors, celestial sensors, and an IMU. Four articulated 1.7 m x 1.8 m solar panels (2 GaAs, 2 Si) provided 656 watts (980 W max) and fed two 20 Ahr NiH2 batteries. The MIL-STD-1750A-based central computer had a total data storage capacity of 3 gigabits.

Payloads included:

  • Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter (MOLA) provided local and global maps of Martian topography with 2 to 30 meter vertical resolution.
  • Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) supported study of climate, surface geology, and surface and atmospheric interactions. Camera system included wide angle (140 degree) and narrow angle (0.4 degree) optics for producing global coverage (7.5 km/pixel), selective moderate resolution images (280 m/pixel) and very selective high resolution (1.4 m/pixel) images.
  • Magnetometer and Electron Reflectometer for global study of intrinsic magnetic field.
  • Thermal Emission Spectrometer to map the mineral content of rocks, ice caps, and clouds.
  • Radio Science (Ultrastable Oscillator) to study gravitational field, atmospheric refractive indices, and temperature profiles.
  • Mars Balloon Relay to serve as a data relay for planned future surface stations and atmospheric experiments.
  • Ka-Band Link Experiment (KaBLE) to provide Ka-band signal for atmospheric attenuation studies.

Total science payload mass was 78 kg.

Height: 1.80 m (5.90 ft).
First Launch: 1996.11.07.
Number: 1 .

More... - Chronology...


Associated Countries
See also
  • Delta The Delta launch vehicle was America's longest-lived, most reliable, and lowest-cost space launch vehicle. Development began in 1955 and it continued in service in the 21st Century despite numerous candidate replacements. More...

Associated Launch Vehicles
  • Delta American orbital launch vehicle. The Delta launch vehicle was America's longest-lived, most reliable, and lowest-cost space launch vehicle. Delta began as Thor, a crash December 1955 program to produce an intermediate range ballistic missile using existing components, which flew thirteen months after go-ahead. Fifteen months after that, a space launch version flew, using an existing upper stage. The addition of solid rocket boosters allowed the Thor core and Able/Delta upper stages to be stretched. Costs were kept down by using first and second-stage rocket engines surplus to the Apollo program in the 1970's. Continuous introduction of new 'existing' technology over the years resulted in an incredible evolution - the payload into a geosynchronous transfer orbit increasing from 68 kg in 1962 to 3810 kg by 2002. Delta survived innumerable attempts to kill the program and replace it with 'more rationale' alternatives. By 2008 nearly 1,000 boosters had flown over a fifty-year career, and cancellation was again announced. More...
  • Delta 2 7000 American orbital launch vehicle. The Delta 7000 series used GEM-40 strap-ons with the Extra Extended Long Tank core, further upgraded with the RS-27A engine. More...
  • Delta 7925 American orbital launch vehicle. Four stage vehicle consisting of 9 x GEM-40 + 1 x EELT Thor/RS-27A + 1 x Delta K + 1 x Star 48B More...

Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
  • NASA American agency overseeing development of rockets and spacecraft. National Aeronautics and Space Administration, USA, USA. More...
  • Martin American manufacturer of rockets, spacecraft, and rocket engines. Martin Marietta Astronautics Group (1956), Denver, CO, USA. More...

Associated Programs
  • Mars Surveyor A series of lower-cost missions devoted to the mapping of Mars from Mars orbit. Designed to accomplish at less cost the mission assigned to the failed Mars Observer. More...

Bibliography
  • McDowell, Jonathan, Jonathan's Space Home Page (launch records), Harvard University, 1997-present. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • McDowell, Jonathan, Jonathan's Space Report (Internet Newsletter), Harvard University, Weekly, 1989 to Present. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • NASA Report, 1996 Mars Missions Press Kit, Web Address when accessed: here.
  • NASA Report, Mars Global Surveyor Arrival Press Kit, Web Address when accessed: here.
  • NASA Report, Mars Global Surveyor Fact Sheet, Web Address when accessed: here.
  • NASA Report, MGS Project Plan, Web Address when accessed: here.
  • NASA Report, MGS Spacecraft Requirements, Web Address when accessed: here.
  • NASA Report, MGS Investigation Description and Science Requirements Document, Web Address when accessed: here.
  • NASA Report, MGS Mission Requirements Document, Web Address when accessed: here.
  • NASA Report, MGS Mission Plan, Web Address when accessed: here.
  • NASA Report, MGS Nagivation Plan, Web Address when accessed: here.
  • NASA Report, MGS Mission Sequence Plan, Web Address when accessed: here.
  • NASA Report, MGS Mission Operations Specification Vol. 1, Web Address when accessed: here.
  • NASA Report, MGS Mission Operations Specification Vol. 2, Web Address when accessed: here.
  • NASA Report, MGS Mission Operations Specification Vol. 3, Web Address when accessed: here.
  • NASA Report, MGS Mission Operations Specification Vol. 4, Web Address when accessed: here.
  • NASA Report, MGS Mission Operations Specification Vol. 5 Part 1, Web Address when accessed: here.
  • NASA Report, MGS Mission Operations Specification Vol. 5 Part 2, Web Address when accessed: here.
  • NASA Report, MGS Mission Operations Specification Vol. 6 Part 1, Web Address when accessed: here.
  • NASA Report, MGS Mission Operations Specification Vol. 6 Part 2, Web Address when accessed: here.
  • NASA Report, MGS Mission Operations Specification Vol. 6 Part 3, Web Address when accessed: here.
  • NASA Report, MGS Mission Operations Specification Vol. 7, Web Address when accessed: here.
  • NASA Report, MGS Mission Operations Specification Vol. 8, Web Address when accessed: here.
  • NASA Report, MGS Detailed Mission Requirements, Web Address when accessed: here.
  • NASA Report, MGS Block Dictionary, Web Address when accessed: here.
  • NASA Report, MGS Telemetry Dictionary, Web Address when accessed: here.
  • NASA Report, MGS Telemetry Calibration Handbook, Web Address when accessed: here.
  • NASA Report, Overview of the Mars Global Surveyor Mission, Web Address when accessed: here.

Associated Launch Sites
  • Cape Canaveral America's largest launch center, used for all manned launches. Today only six of the 40 launch complexes built here remain in use. Located at or near Cape Canaveral are the Kennedy Space Center on Merritt Island, used by NASA for Saturn V and Space Shuttle launches; Patrick AFB on Cape Canaveral itself, operated the US Department of Defense and handling most other launches; the commercial Spaceport Florida; the air-launched launch vehicle and missile Drop Zone off Mayport, Florida, located at 29.00 N 79.00 W, and an offshore submarine-launched ballistic missile launch area. All of these take advantage of the extensive down-range tracking facilities that once extended from the Cape, through the Caribbean, South Atlantic, and to South Africa and the Indian Ocean. More...
  • Cape Canaveral LC17A Delta launch complex. Part of a dual launch pad complex built for the Thor ballistic missile program in 1956. Pad 17A supported Thor, Delta, and Delta II launches into the 21st Century. More...

Mars Global Surveyor Chronology


1996 November 7 - . 17:00 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC17A. LV Family: Delta. Launch Vehicle: Delta 7925. LV Configuration: Delta 7925 D239.
  • Mars Global Surveyor - . Payload: MGS / Leros 1B LAE. Nation: USA. Agency: NASA; JPL. Program: Mars Surveyor. Class: Mars. Type: Mars probe. Spacecraft: Mars Global Surveyor. USAF Sat Cat: 24648 . COSPAR: 1996-062A. Mars Global Surveyor entered a 258 x 54021 km x 93.3 deg polar orbit around Mars on 12 September 1997 after a 22 minute burn of its main engine. After a long aerobraking phase to a lower circular orbit, the spacecraft began its primary mission of photographing and observing changes on the Martian surface in March 1999. After nearly ten years of service, the last signals from MGS were received on 3 November 2006. The spacecraft went silent after an incorrect software upload caused its solar arrays to lose power.

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