Encyclopedia Astronautica
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.

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Associated Countries
Associated Spacecraft
  • 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. More...
  • MCO American Mars orbiter. One launch, 1998.12.11, Mars Climate Orbiter. The Mars Climate Orbiter was to have accomplished mapping and weather studies of Mars and served as a relay for data from the Mars Polar Lander. More...

See also
Associated Launch Vehicles
  • 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...
  • Delta 7425-9.5 American orbital launch vehicle. Four stage vehicle consisting of 4 x GEM-40 + 1 x EELT Thor/RS-27A + 1 x Delta K + 1 x Star 48B with 2.9 m (9.5 foot) diameter fairing) More...

Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
  • JPL American agency;manufacturer of rockets, spacecraft, and rocket engines. Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, USA. More...
  • 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 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...

Mars 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.

1998 December 11 - . 18:45 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC17A. Launch Pad: SLC17A. LV Family: Delta. Launch Vehicle: Delta 7425-9.5. LV Configuration: Delta 7425-9.5 D264.
  • Mars Climate Orbiter - . Mass: 629 kg (1,386 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: JPL. Manufacturer: Martin. Program: Mars Surveyor. Class: Mars. Type: Mars probe. Spacecraft: MCO. Decay Date: 1999-09-23 . USAF Sat Cat: 25571 . COSPAR: 1998-073A. The Mars Climate Orbiter was the second flight of the Mars Surveyor Program. The probe was to enter a 160 km x 38600 km polar orbit around Mars on September 23,1999, and use aerobraking to reach a 373 km x 437 km x 92.9 degree sun-synchronous mapping orbit by November 23 1999. While the Mars Orbit Insertion burn began as planned on September 23, 1999 at 08:50 GMT, no signal was received after the spacecraft went behind the planet. Subsequent investigation showed that the spacecraft had plunged deep into the Martian atmosphere, with its closest approach to Mars being 57 km. It was concluded that the spacecraft burnt up in the atmosphere. It was later found that cutbacks in tracking, combined with incorrect values in a look-up table imbedded deep in the spacecraft software (use of pounds force instead of newtons) were to blame. This failure led to a shake-up of NASA's 'faster, better, cheaper' approach to unmanned spaceflight. Additional Details: here....

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