Mars Surveyor 1998 Orbiter and Lander Update

Here is the latest on the Mars Surveyor 1998 missions. The lander will launch in January 1999, land in December 1999.

Date: Mon, 30 Oct 1995 17:06:56 -0500
From: (NASA HQ Public Affairs Office)
Message-Id: <>
Subject: Science Instruments Selected for 1998 Mars Missions
Precedence: bulk

Douglas Isbell
Headquarters, Washington, DC               October 30, 1995
(Phone:  202/358-1753)

RELEASE:  95-196


     An extremely lightweight camera and a variety of 
instruments designed to study daily weather patterns and 
the icy south pole on Mars have been selected by NASA 
officials to fly aboard an orbiting spacecraft and lander 
in late 1998.

     Known as the Mars Surveyor '98 Orbiter and the Mars 
Surveyor '98 Lander, the robotic missions will enable 
detailed scientific studies of the planet's atmosphere, 
climate, meteorology and surface volatiles such as water 
ice and frozen carbon dioxide.  The lander will be the 
first mission ever sent to the poles of Mars, where it will 
settle on terrain that appears to consist of alternating 
layers of clean and dust-laden ice.

     "These investigations will collect data that is 
fundamental to a better knowledge of the climate of Mars, 
both in the past and in the present," said 
Dr. Wesley T. Huntress Jr., Associate Administrator for 
Space Science at NASA Headquarters.  "Landing in a polar 
region is particularly interesting and exciting.  These 
areas probably hold the key to understanding what appear to 
be quasi-periodic climate fluctuations on the planet over 
thousands or even hundreds of thousands of years, and the 
nature of the orbit of Mars makes this our only opportunity 
to send a mission to a pole during the next decade."

     The orbiter will carry an advanced technology optical 
camera called the Mars Surveyor '98 Orbiter Color Camera, 
to be provided by Dr. Michael Malin of Malin Space Science 
Inc., San Diego.  With a total mass of only 2.2 lbs., the 
camera system is less than 1/20th the mass of the Mars 
Observer Camera spare, also provided by Malin, that will 
fly aboard NASA's Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft, 
scheduled for launch in November 1996.

     The camera consists of two elements:  a wide-angle 
camera that will acquire daily weather maps of Mars with a 
surface resolution of a half mile to up to four and a half 
miles, and a medium-angle camera with a resolution of 131 
feet that will study alterations in the planet's surface 
over time due to changing atmospheric conditions and winds.

     The orbiter also will carry an atmospheric instrument 
called the Pressure Modulator Infrared Radiometer (PMIRR), 
which was selected for flight in July.  PMIRR will measure 
temperature profiles of the Martian atmosphere and monitor 
its water vapor and dust content.

     Malin Space Science Inc., will provide another low-
mass camera for the Mars '98 lander, called the Mars 
Surveyor '98 Descent Imager.  It will produce wide-angle 
views of the Martian surface beginning about 10 seconds 
after the lander's parachute has been deployed, at 
approximately five miles in altitude, until its landing.  
These pictures will be used to provide a larger geographic 
context for local landforms around the landing zone, and to 
help tie together images from the orbiter with the exact 
landing site.

     Once on the surface, the lander will power up an 
integrated science payload to be supplied by Dr. David 
Paige of the University of California at Los Angeles.  
Known as the Mars Volatile and Climate Surveyor, this 
payload achieves a mass of just 37 lbs. through the use of 
common electronic components and other shared subsystems.

     The payload includes a mast-mounted imager to take 
stereo photos of the surrounding landscape; a six-and-a-
half foot robot arm that will dig up and deliver surface 
samples to a thermal and evolved gas analyzer to determine 
their content of ice and frozen carbon dioxide; and a mast-
mounted meteorological package with sensors to record 
atmospheric pressure, temperature and winds.  During its 
planned 86-day surface mission, the lander's robot arm will 
attempt to dig trenches in the icy polar soil and then use 
a small arm-mounted camera to transmit close-up pictures of 
any stratified layers.

     "Like the exposed walls of the Grand Canyon on Earth, 
these layers should reveal a fascinating record of gross 
fluctuations in the Martian environment, telling us more 
about why a planet that appears to have been so wet in the 
past is so cold and dry now," said Huntress.

     NASA is continuing discussions with the Russian Space 
Agency (RSA) about the possibility of Russia supplying a 
science instrument for the lander, in addition to hardware 
that the RSA is contributing for the PMIRR orbiter 
instrument.  Options for the lander include a laser-ranging 
device that measures atmospheric dust and haze or an 
electromagnetic sounder that would map soil density 
variations and possible subsurface water.  A final decision 
on these lander instruments should be made by the end of 
November, Huntress said.

     The Mars '98 Orbiter and Lander are scheduled for 
separate launches aboard Med-Lite expendable launch 
vehicles in December 1998 and January 1999, respectively.  
The missions are part of NASA's Mars Surveyor program, a 
10-year series of cost-capped missions to Mars featuring 
two launches every 26 months.


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Arizona Mars K-12 Education Program