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Mars Global Surveyor
Mars Global Surveyor Mission to Mars

Goals: Mars Global Surveyor was sent to the Red Planet to study the surface features and geological processes; determine the composition, distribution and physical properties of minerals, rocks and ice; map global topography and monitor the planet's weather.

Accomplishments: Mars Global Surveyor operated longer at Mars than any other spacecraft of its time, and for more than four times as long as the prime mission originally planned. The spacecraft returned detailed information that has overhauled our understanding of Mars. Major findings include dramatic evidence that water still flows in short bursts down hillside gullies, and identification of deposits of water-related minerals leading to selection of a Mars rover landing site.


Key Dates
7 Nov 1996:  Launch (17:00:49 UT)
11 Sep 1997:  Arrival at Mars
2 Nov 2006:  Final Contact
Status: Sucessful
Fast Facts
Mars Global Surveyor Facts Mars Global Surveyor burst the bubble of many enthusiasts who thought a Viking orbiter picture showed a face on Mars. It was just a hill (right).

The orbiter succumbed to battery failure after nine years and 52 days in orbit.

The spacecraft operated in orbit at Mars longer than any other spacecraft - four times longer than its planned two-year mission.

It was the first successful mission to the Red Planet in two decades.

Mars Global Surveyor's detailed images of the so-called face on Mars revealed it to be just another Martian mesa (right), not the evidence of ancient Martians hyped in popular culture.

A malfunction at first seemed to doom Mars Global Surveyor to a shorter mission, but the spacecraft ended up setting an endurance record for work in Mars orbit.

The spacecraft also acted as a communications relay for other Mars missions.
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Last Updated: 30 Nov 2010