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Mars 01
Mars 1 Mission to Mars

Mission Type: Flyby
Launch Vehicle: 8K78 (no. T103-16)
Launch Site: NIIP-5 / launch site 1
Spacecraft Mass: 893.5 kg
Spacecraft Instruments: 1) imaging system and 2) magnetometer
Spacecraft Dimensions: 3.3 m long and 1.0 m in diameter (4 m across with the solar panels and radiators deployed)
Deep Space Chronicle: A Chronology of Deep Space and Planetary Probes 1958-2000, Monographs in Aerospace History No. 24, by Asif A. Siddiqi

National Space Science Data Center,

The second of three Soviet spacecraft intended for the 1962 Mars launch window, Mars 1 was the first spacecraft sent by any nation to fly past Mars.

Its primary mission was to photograph the surface. This time the upper stage successfully fired the probe toward Mars, but immediately after engine cutoff, controllers discovered that pressure in one of the nitrogen gas bottles for the spacecraft's attitude-control system had dropped to zero (due to incomplete closure of a valve).

On 6 and 7 November 1962, controllers used a backup gyroscope system to keep the solar panels constantly exposed to the Sun during the coast phase, although further midcourse corrections became impossible. Controllers maintained contact with the vehicle until 21 March 1963, when the probe was 106 million kilometers from Earth.

Mars 1 eventually silently flew by Mars at a distance of 197,000 kilometers on 19 June 1963. Prior to loss of contact, scientists were able to collect data on interplanetary space (on cosmic-ray intensity, Earth's magnetic fields, ionized gases from the Sun, and meteoroid impact densities) up to a distance of 1.24 AU.

Key Dates
1 Nov 1962:  Launch (17:55:04 UT)
20 Jun 1963:  Contact Lost
Status: Partial Success
Fast Facts
Mars 01 Facts The spacecraft recorded one micrometeorite strike every two minutes due to the Taurids meteor shower (right).

It is believed an improperly closed valve caused the loss of the nitrogen used to control the spacecraft.

Controllers used a backup gyroscope system to position the spacecraft to gather solar power, but eventually contact was lost and the spacecraft entered orbit around the Sun.
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Last Updated: 30 Nov 2010