Goals: Like its twin, Mars 2, which arrived at Mars five days earlier, Mars 3 had two objectives: to place an orbiter around Mars and to put a lander on the Martian surface in working order. Each was to take pictures and collect information about the planet. In addition, the orbiter was to monitor the solar wind and the interplanetary and Martian magnetic fields.

Accomplishments: The lander was the first to achieve a survivable landing on the Martian surface. It began transmitting a TV image of the surface immediately after landing, but stopped permanently after only 20 seconds. Controllers surmised that the probe shorted out due to the electrical effects of a violent, planet-wide dust storm. The orbiter successfully attained Mars orbit, though one in which it took nearly 13 days to complete one orbit instead of the planned 25 hours. None of the pictures from the lander or orbiter showed much detail, but the orbiter transmitted meaningful scientific information until contact was lost in July 1972.

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