Most Successful Missions To Mars

The Mariner 4 spacecraft.
The Mariner 4 spacecraft.

The Most Successful Missions To Mars

The mission to Mars has been a subject of scientific proposals since the 19th century. The exploration of Mars has been an objective of the national space program for decades. The mission to Mars has also been a subject of science fiction with human traveling to the Mars being explored in several literature materials including Total Recall, Mission to Mars, and the Martians. Several missions to Mars have been proposed and planned including the Crocco flyby with most missions scheduled to coincide with the Launch of Windows. Some of the most successful earliest missions to Mars include

Mariner 4

Mariner 4 was part of spacecraft designed to explore Mars in a flyby mode and transmit observation to the earth. Mariner 4 was released towards Mars on November 28, 1964, and was a first successful mission to Mars. It was the first to return the pictures of the surface of the planet Mars. Mariner 4 also captured the image of another planet which transformed the scientific view of the existence of life in Mars. Mariner 4 spacecraft was made up of octagonal magnesium frame, solar panels mounted on the top frame, and a parabolic antenna mounted on the frame. The instruments in the Mariner 4 consisted of a magnetometer, a radiation detector, cosmic dust detector, television camera, and cosmic ray telescope. After the success of the Mariner 4, scientists concluded that if there was life on Mars, then it was smaller and simpler. The Mariner 4 mission total cost was $83 million.

Mariner 6 and 7

Mariner 6 and 7 completed a dual mission to Mars in 1969. Marina 6 was launched on February 25, 1969, at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station while Mariner 7 was launched on March 27, 1969, at Cape Kennedy. The craft analyzed the atmosphere and surface over the equator and South Polar regions using a remote sensor while recording and transmitting pictures. The goal of the mission was to study the surface and the atmosphere of Mars to establish the basis for further investigations relevant to search for life in the planet. Mariner 6 was also to provide data that would be used for programming Mariner 7. Both Mariner 6 and 7 were identical and consisted of octagonal magnesium frame and a conical structure mounted on the frame. The instruments in both Mariners included IR Spectrometer, UV Spectrometer, Mars TV Camera, and celestial mechanics.

Mariner 9

Mariner 9 contributed significantly to the exploration of Mars. It was also part of the Mariner program that had initially produced three successful missions (Mariner 4, 6 and 7). Mariner 9 was released towards Mars on May 30, 1971, and landed there on November 14, 1971. It was the first spacecraft to go around another planet. Mariner 9 was developed to complete the explorations initiated by Mariner 6 and 7 and to study any of the temporal changes in the Martians’ atmosphere and surface. Mariner 9 also analyzed the two Mars’ moons. The Mariner 9 met and exceeded its objectives.

Mission Challenges

Despite the success of some of the missions to Mars, significant difficulties were encountered in the process. The high cost of missions delayed some of the missions or let to the incomplete exploration of Mars. Also, the rivalry between the Soviet Union and the US in the late 1950s threatened some of the missions. Health threats and psychological effects of isolation from earth for prolonged periods were significant challenges to both successful and failed missions to Mars

The Most Successful Missions To Mars

RankSpacecraftLaunch dateOperatorOutcome
1Mariner 428 November 1964NASA United StatesSuccessful
2Mariner 625 February 1969NASA United StatesSuccessful
3Mariner 727 March 1969NASA United StatesSuccessful
4Mariner 930 May 1971NASA United StatesSuccessful[3]
5Viking 1 orbiter20 August 1975NASA United StatesSuccessful
6Viking 1 lander20 August 1975NASA United StatesSuccessful
7Viking 2 orbiter9 September 1975NASA United StatesSuccessful
8Viking 2 lander9 September 1975NASA United StatesSuccessful
9Mars Global Surveyor7 November 1996NASA United StatesSuccessful
10Mars Pathfinder4 December 1996NASA United StatesSuccessful
11Sojourner4 December 1996NASA United StatesSuccessful
12Mars Odyssey7 April 2001NASA United StatesOperational
13Mars Express2 June 2003ESA EuropeOperational
14Spirit (MER-A)10 June 2003NASA United StatesSuccessful
15Opportunity (MER-B)8 July 2003NASA United StatesOperational
16Rosetta2 March 2004ESA EuropeSuccessful
17MRO12 August 2005NASA United StatesOperational
18Phoenix4 August 2007NASA United StatesSuccessful
19Dawn27 September 2007NASA United StatesSuccessful
20Curiosity (Mars Science Laboratory)26 November 2011NASA United StatesOperational
21Mars Orbiter Mission (Mangalyaan)5 November 2013ISRO IndiaOperational
22MAVEN18 November 2013NASA United StatesOperational
23ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter14 March 2016ESA/Roscosmos Europe/RussiaOperational

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