Mars Polar Lander

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The official mission patch for the ill-fated Mars Polar Surveyor mission.


The Mars Polar Lander (MPL) was launched from Cape Canaveral Air Station Space Launch Complex 17 (SLC-17) on a Boeing Delta II rocket on January 3, 1999. The lander was scheduled for a soft landing in the south-polar region of the planet. Contact was lost with the lander during its descent onto the Martian surface on December 3, 1999, and after a series of efforts to communicate with the spacecraft failed, on January 17, 2000, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, who managed the mission, declared it a loss.

Mission Facts

Spacecraft Dimensions: 3.5 feet (1.06 meters) tall by 12 feet (3.6 meters) wide.

Spacecraft Weight:

  • Total: 576 kg (1,270 pounds)
  • Lander: 290 kg (639 pounds)
  • Propellant: 64 kg (141 pounds)
  • Cruise Stage: 82 kg (181 pounds)
  • Aeroshell & Heat Shield: 140 kg (309 pounds)

Science Instruments:

  • Deep Space 2 Microprobes
  • Mars Volatiles and Climate Surveyor (MVACS), consisting of surface imager, robotic arm, meteorology package, and thermal and evolved gas analyzer.
  • Mars Descent Imager (MARDI)
  • Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) and Mars Microphone

Misc: A CDROM with over 932,000 names is carried on the lander.

External Links