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Mars Global Surveyor

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The Mars Global Surveyor Mission was the first return to Mars after a 20-=year absence. During a Martian year, the spacecraft will look at Mars surface features, atmosphere, and magnetic properties. This will allow a detailed comparison between Earth and Mars and will prepare for the continuing series of Mars exploration. This mission cost $154 million to develop, and an additional $65 million for the launch, with $20 million per year in operations.

Mission Timelines

  • Nov. 7, 1996 - Launch
  • Mar. 14, 1997 - First day Pathfinder closer to Mars than Surveyor
  • Apr. 10, 1997 - Halfway point to Mars
  • Apr. 11, 1997 - Major solar flare; MGS magnetometer turned on
  • Jul. 2, 1997 - First view of Mars taken by the Mars Orbiter Camera
  • Sep. 11, 1997 - Mars orbital insertion rocket burn
  • Sep. 13, 1997 - TES instrument turned on
  • Sep. 17, 1997 - Beginning Aerobraking
  • Mar 1999 - ongoing - Mission science
  • Jan 2000 - Finish mapping - serve as communications relay

Mission Highlights

  • Possible Ancient Ocean on Mars - topographic information gives possible evidence for an ancient low elevation region with a shoreline.
  • The mission is providing daily monitoring of atmospheric temperatures


Visits since 10/99. Last Updated on December 15, 2001
Karen. Meech, Institute for Astronomy, UH
meech@ifa.hawaii.edu