Mars Mission Launch Sequence

For more interesting Mars stuff on the web, also see the SEDS Mars Link and Exploration page.

Comments, corrections, and propositions to this page are welcome ! Contact me !


Historic Mars Missions:

1960 October 10, A2-e (Vostok)
(Mars 1960A), also Korabl 4 or Marsnik 1 (USSR): Failed to achieve Earth orbit. Marsnik 1 (NSSDC)
1960 October 14, A2-e
(Mars 1960B), also Korabl 5 or Marsnik 2 (USSR): Failed to achieve Earth orbit. Marsnik 2 (NSSDC)
1962 October 24, A2-e
Sputnik 22, also Mars 1962A or Korabl 11 (USSR): Failed to leave Earth orbit (blew up). Sputnik 22 (NSSDC)
1962 November 1, A2-e
Mars 1, also Sputnik 23 (USSR): First probe to pass Mars (at about 190,000 km), but contact lost on March 21, 1963. Mars 1 (NSSDC)
1962 November 4, A2-e
Sputnik 24, also Mars 1962B or Korabl 13 (USSR): Failed to leave Earth orbit (blew up). Sputnik 24 (NSSDC)
1964 November 5, Atlas-Agena D
Mariner 3 (Nasa): Launched by Atlas-Agena D, Mariner 3 went into Solar orbit, but as the aerodynamic protection shroud failed to be jetisoned, it reached a wrong orbit and failed Mars by a wide margin. Mariner 3 & 4 mission page (JPL) - Mariner 3 (NSSDC)
1964 November 28, Atlas-Agena D
Mariner 4 (Nasa): First successful Mars mission. Passed the red planet at 9825 km on July 14, 1965, and returned 22 TV pictures of its surface. Discovered the cratered nature of Mars' surface. Mariner 4 image; Mariner 3 & 4 mission page (JPL); Mariner 4 (NSSDC) - Mariner 4 images catalogue - ftp access - Mariner IV - First Flyby of Mars, by Bill Momsen
1964 November 30, A2-e
Zond 2 (USSR): Passed Mars at less than 1000 miles (1500 km) on August 6, 1965, but communications was lost on May 4 or 5, 1965, so no data were returned. Zond 2 (NSSDC)
[1965 July 18], A2-e
Zond 3 (USSR): Flight to Mars orbit (not the planet). Transmitted 25 images of the lunar far side, communication from up to 31 million km Zond 3 (NSSDC)
1967 March 27, A2-e
(unnamed Mars ?) (USSR): Launch Failure
1969 February 24, Atlas-Centaur
Mariner 6 (Nasa): Successful fly-by at 2120 miles (3410 km) occurred on July 31, 1969. Returned data and 75 photos, mainly from the equatorial region. Found that most of Mars' atmosphere was made of carbon dioxide. Mariner 6 or 7 image; Mariner 6 & 7 mission page (JPL); Mariner 6 (NSSDC); Mariner 6 & 7 Image Browser - Software for Mariner 6 and 7 TV Experiment by Piotr Marek
1969 March 27, Atlas-Centaur
Mariner 7 (Nasa): Successful fly-by at 2190 miles (3524 km) on August 5, 1969; returned data and 126 photos, flying over the south polar region. Was probably struck and slightly damaged by meteor a few days before arrival. Mariner 6 or 7 image; Mariner 6 & 7 mission page (JPL); Mariner 7 (NSSDC)
1969 March 27, D1-e (Proton)
(Unnamed Mars 1969A) (USSR): Failed to achieve Earth orbit. Mars 1969A (NSSDC)
1969 April 14, D1-e
(Unnamed Mars 1969B) (USSR): Failed to achieve Earth orbit. Mars 1969B (NSSDC)
1971 May 8, Atlas-Centaur
Mariner 8, also Mariner-H (Nasa): Due to second stage failure of the launcher, fell into Atlantic. Mariner 8 & 9 mission page (JPL) - Mariner-H (NSSDC)
1971 May 10, D1-e
Cosmos 419 (USSR): Intended orbiter/lander mission, failed to leave Earth orbit. Cosmos 419 (NSSDC)
1971 May 19, D1-e
Mars 2 (USSR): The Mars 2 Orbiter reached Mars orbit of 860x15,500 miles (1380x25,000 km) successfully on November 27, 1971. The lander became the first human-made object to reach the surface of Mars when it crashed on the planet on the same day. Because of a global dust storm at arrival time, the orbiter could return only pictures with little surface detail. Mars 2 (NSSDC) - Mars 2 Lander (NSSDC)
1971 May 28, D1-e
Mars 3 (USSR): The Orbiter reached Mars orbit (930x124,000 miles, 1500x200,000 km) successfully on December 2, 1971. The lander achieved the first soft landing on Mars on the same day (at 45 deg S, 158 deg W, between Electris and Phaetontis regions), but failed after 110 seconds after transmitting a small portion of a picture. Together with the images returned by Mars 2, a color picture of the global dust storm of December 1971 was composed. Mars 3 (NSSDC) - Mars 3 Lander (NSSDC)
1971 May 30, Atlas-Centaur
Mariner 9 (Nasa): Successfully achieved Mars orbit of 850 x 10,650 miles (1390 x 17,140 km) to become Mars' first artificial satellite, and returned 7,329 TV pictures covering the entire surface of Mars, providing the first full photographic atlas, or photo globe, of a celestial body, until it was shut down on October 27, 1972 after 698 orbits, or 349 days in orbit (a total mission of 515 days). Discovered volcanoes, flow channels, and more surface structures.
Mariner 9 image: 21k jpg, 279k jpg; Mariner 8 & 9 mission page (JPL); Mariner 9 stuff (NSSDC); Mariner 9 image browser (Peter Masek)
1973 July 21, D1-e
Mars 4 (USSR): Intended Mars orbiter; arrived at Mars on February 10, 1974, but failed to get inserted in Mars orbit, and passed by the planet at 2240 km. Mars 4 (NSSDC)
1973 July 25, D1-e
Mars 5 (USSR): Reached Mars orbit on February 12, 1974, but failed 10 days after orbit insertion, after returning some photos. Mars 5 (NSSDC)
1973 August 5, D1-e
Mars 6 (USSR): Lander spacecraft; crashed on Mars on March 12, 1974. Mars 6 (NSSDC)
1973 August 9, D1-e
Mars 7 (USSR): Intended lander, missed Mars by 1280 km on March 9, 1974. Mars 7 (NSSDC)
1975 August 20, Titan IIIe - Centaur - TE 364-4
Viking 1 (Nasa): Orbiter and lander mission (a Viking craft is shown in our image; the lander is sitting above the orbiter, packed in the protection cover). The spacecraft reached Mars orbit on June 19, 1976, the lander softlanded on Mars on July 20, 1976, in Chryse Planitia at 22.48 d North areographic latitude, 48.01 d Western longitude.
Both orbiter and lander performed extremely successful missions, but the lander's bio experiments returned ambiguous results concerning microbiotic life on Mars.
Viking Orbiter 1 was successfully working until August 7, 1980, when it went out of altitude control propellant, Viking Lander 1 until November 13, 1982 when it was accidentally shut down.
Viking 1 Orbiter - Viking 1 Lander (NSSDC)
1975 September 5, Titan IIIe - Centaur - TE 364-4
Viking 2 (Nasa): Orbiter and lander mission. Reached Mars orbit on August 7, 1976, lander softlanded on September 3, 1976, in Utopia Planitia 47.97 d N, 225.74 d W, 7,420 km North-East of Viking 1. Both Viking 2 orbiter and lander were equally successful as the sister craft Viking 1; Viking Orbiter 2 was active until July 25, 1978, when its altitude control propellant had been used up, Viking Lander 2 returned data up to August 7, 1980, when Viking Orbiter 1 was shut down, which had been served as communications relay.
Viking 2 Orbiter - Viking 2 Lander (NSSDC)

Both Viking missions were extremely fruitful in both the quality and the quantity of accquired data: The orbiters collected some 52,000 images and cartographed 97 per cent of the Martian surface from orbit, often from different angles so that the topography could be determined. The landers returned some 4,500 photos and weather data from the Martian surface, documenting seasonal changes, besides the well-known soil investigations and bio experiments.
Viking spacecraft image (inflight configuration with orbiter and lander; shown in this page); Viking info, images and links at SEDS; Viking homepage at Nasa's NSSDC; Viking homepage at NASM; Viking 1&2 (JPL)

1988 July 5, D1-e
Phobos 1 (USSR): Intended to investigate Mars' moon Phobos, this craft lost contact midway on September 2, 1988 because of an erroneous control command sequence. Phobos Homepage; Phobos image [29k jpg]; Phobos Project Information (NSSDC)
1988 July 12, D1-e
Phobos 2 (USSR): Successfully reached Mars orbit on January 29, 1989, and returned data and photos of Mars and Phobos. During an approaching manoeuver to Phobos, the craft lost orientation due to computer defect, and suffered energy loss, which terminated the mission. Phobos Homepage; Phobos image [29k jpg]; Phobos Project Information (NSSDC)
1992 September 25, Titan IIIe-TOS
Mars Observer (Nasa): Reached Mars on August 21, 1993, and sent some TV images on approach. Contact was lost during its orbit insertion ignition; it may have been damaged, blewn up, or simply frozen after having lost orientation.
Mars Observer spacecraft image [22k gif, caption]; Mars Observer images at SEDS; Mars Observer Images from its interplanetary cruise at Malin Space Science Systems; Mars Observer page at HEASARC (GSFC/Nasa); Mars Observer (NSSDC) Mars Observer (JPL)

1996 November 7, Delta II, currently in Mars orbit.
Mars Global Surveyor, MGS (Nasa): Mars orbiter, launched from KSC, Cape Canaveral. Reached Mars and successfully entered Mars orbit on September 11, 1997. Uses aerobraking for achieving the low Mars orbit required for the intended orbital investigations of the Red Planet, which began in early 1998. For almost a decade, the spacecraft has provided numerous high-resolution images and valuable data of the Martian surface and atmosphere. Contact to MGS was lost on November 5, 2006, probably because of an erroneous command sequence. MGS spacecraft image [141k gif]; MGS info, images and links at SEDS; MGS Homepage; MGS info (NSSDC)

1996 November 16, D1-e
Mars 96 (Russia): intended Mars orbiter with 4 landers and 2 penetrators; experiments from 22 countries. Failed to leave Earth orbit, and decayed soon after liftoff. Mars 96 homepage; Mars 96 (NSSDC)


1996 December 4, Delta II
Mars Pathfinder, MPF (Nasa); renamed Carl Sagan Memorial Station after landing: Mars lander with Sojourner rover. Launched from KSC, Cape Canaveral; softlanded on Mars on July 4, 1997, in direct approach, in Ares Valley, at 19.5 d N, 32.8 d W. Sojourner was released to the Martian surface on July 6, and performed investigations of Martian soil and rocks around MPF. Both spacecraft operated extremely successful until the last data transmission on September 27, 1997, and after a last signal received on October 7, 1997, contact was lost, perhaps because of battery failure partially due to falling temperatures at the landing site. MPF image; Sojourner image; MPF info, images and links at SEDS; Mars Pathfinder Mission Page (JPL); Mars Pathfinder homepage; MPF info (NSSDC)

1998 July 4, M-V
Nozomi (Hope), formerly Planet-B (Japan). Intended orbiter to study Mars' upper atmosphere. After two Lunar and one Earth swingby manouvers, the craft was originally scheduled to arrive at Mars on October 11, 1999. Unfortunately, due to a problem with its propulsion system, the spacecraft got "insufficient acceleration." A new orbit was calculated, and after two more Earth swingbys and a delay of more than 4 years, arrived in the neighborhood of Mars with a re-scheduled orbital insertion on December 14, 2003. Unfortunately, a correction maneuver on December 9, 2003 failed so that the mission had to be abandoned; after a flyby of Mars at 860 km on December 14, 2003, Nozomi remains in an interplanetary Solar orbit. Planet-B image [158k gif]; Nozomi information, images and links from SEDS; Nozomi (NSSDC)
1998 December 10, Delta II
Mars Climate Orbiter, MCO (Nasa), former Mars Surveyor 1998 Orbiter. Was to study Martian weather and climate. Contact to spacecraft lost when it disappeared behind planet Mars for Mars Orbit Insertion on September 23, 1999. The spacecraft was probably destroyed in Mars' atmosphere when it came too close to the planet due to a navigation error. Mars Climate Orbiter image [5k jpg]; MCO information, images and links at SEDS; MCO homapage and Mars Climate Orbiter Mission page (JPL); MCO info (NSSDC)
1999 January 3, Delta II
Mars Polar Lander, MPL (Nasa), former Mars Surveyor 1998 Lander. Was to study soil and meteorology near South Polar region, and carried two soil penetrator microprobes (Deep Space 2). After a successful launch and interplanetary cruise, the spacecraft was approaching planet Mars with all systems apparently up and well, but after reaching the surface of Mars, contact was never re-established. While the reason of this loss is not known, the most probable cause is that due to a programming fault, the craft turned off its rocket engines early and consequently crashed upon Mars' surface. The two microprobes, anyway hi-risk missions, also got lost due to unknown reasons. Mars Polar Lander image [25k jpg]; MCO information, images and links at SEDS; MPL, DS 2 and Mars Surveyor 98 homepage (JPL); Mars Polar Lander/Deepspace 2 Mission Page (JPL); MPL and DS2 info (NSSDC)
2001 April 7, Delta II, currently operating in Mars orbit.
2001 Mars Odyssey, Mars Surveyor 2001 Orbiter (Nasa). Mars orbiter. After an over 6 month interplanetary cruise, the spacecraft arrived at Mars and was successfully inserted into Mars orbit on October 24, 2001 (UT; see Mars Orbit Insertion (MOI) information). This mission is to perform the research originally scheduled for the lost Mars Climate Orbiter (Mars Surveyor 1998 Orbiter), i.e., Mars wheather and climate. It is also intended to test aerocapture techniques, study Mars from orbit, serve as communications relay for future landers. 2001 Mars Odyssey information, images and links at SEDS; 2001 Mars Odyssey homepage (JPL); 2001 Mars Odyssey info (NSSDC)
2003 June 2, Soyuz-Fregat, currently operating in Mars orbit. Beagle-2 lander lost on Mars' surface.
Mars Express (ESA), Orbiter and Lander. Mars Express orbiter was successfully inserted into the Martian orbit on December 25, 2003. The Beagle 2 lander was successfully separated on December 19, and reached Mars in direct approach on December 25, 2003. Unfortunately, the lander could not be contacted after landing, and is lost in the region Isidis Planitia. The Mars Express orbiter started its scientific mission and is busily taking photographs and data from its orbit around Mars. Mars Express information, images and links at SEDS, Mars Express homepage (ESA); Beagle 2 lander homepage (Open University); Mars Express info (NSSDC)
2003 June 10, Delta 2 (7425)
Spirit, 2003 Mars Exploration Rover 2, MER-2, MER-A, Mars Surveyor 2003 Lander/Rover A (Nasa). First of two sister spacecraft (the other is Mars Exploration Rover B, Opportunity). A large (~130 kg) rover based on the Athena Rover concept, to land using an airbag system, without stationary lander. Successful softlanding occurred on January 4, 2004, 4:35 UT (January 3, 8:35 p.m. PST) in Gusev crater on Mars. After initially investigating the landing site region, the rover started its expedition to investigate the further environment. Originally scheduled for at least 90 days, this spacecraft is continuously delivering images and data from Mars' surface for over 6 years, has survived a global sandstorm and three times without contact because of solar conjunctions. The last successful contact with the Spirit rover has occurred on March 22, 2010, after which the spacecraft fell silent and didn't reply to consecutive communication attempts. The mission was concluded on June 8, 2011. 2003 MER information, images and links at SEDS, Mars Rovers Home - 2003 Mars Exploration Rovers Homepage (JPL), Spirit, Mars Exploration Rover A (MER-A) info (NSSDC), Twin Rover Press Release (Nasa HQ PR 00-124, August 10, 2000)
2003 July 7, Delta 2 (7425), currently operating on the surface of Mars.
Opportunity, 2003 Mars Exploration Rover 1, MER-1, MER-B, Mars Surveyor 2003 Lander/Rover B (Nasa). Second of two sister spacecraft (the other is Mars Exploration Rover A, Spirit). A large (~130 kg) rover based on the Athena Rover concept, to land using an airbag system, without stationary lander. Successful softlanding occurred on January 25, 2004, 5:05 UT (January 24, 9:05 p.m. PST) in the Meridiani Terra region on Mars. After initially investigating the landing site region, the rover started its expedition to explore the further environment of the landing site. With operations originally scheduled to last for at least 90 days, it is continuously delivering images and data from the Martian surface for more than four years now, and has survived two solar conjunctions as well as a global sandstorm. 2003 MER information, images and links at SEDS, Mars Rovers Home - 2003 Mars Exploration Rovers Homepage (JPL), Opportunity, Mars Exploration Rover B (MER-B) info (NSSDC), Twin Rover Press Release (Nasa HQ PR 00-124, August 10, 2000)
March 2, 2004, Ariane V, currently in interplanetary cruise.
Rosetta (ESA). Was scheduled for launch in January 2003, as Mars/asteroid/comet mission, will flyby Mars for gravity assist on August 26, 2005, to finally reach and land on Comet 46 P/Wirtanen in 2011.
Now, Rosetta was successfully launched on March 2, 2004. After 3 Earth gravity assists in March 2005, November 2007 and November 2009 and a flyby of Mars in March 2007, as well as asteroids (2867) Steins (September 5, 2008) and (21) Lutetia (July 10, 2010), it is currently in deep space hibernation scheduled from July 2011 to January 2014. It will reach Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in May 2014 and besides a variety of scientific investigation, deliver a lander in November 2014. Rosetta homepage at ESOC/ESA, Rosetta info (NSSDC)
2005 August 12, Atlas V, currently operating in Mars orbit.
Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, MRO, Mars Surveyor 2005 Orbiter (Nasa). Arrived at Mars on March 10, 2006, inserted into highly-excentric orbit, which was lowered during aerobraking phase until Noveber 2006. It is performing an extensive study of Mars from orbit during its science mission from November 2006 onward, performed high-resolution measurements including images with a resolution of 20 to 30 cm, including photographs of old and new Mars landers and rovers. It also served as communications relay for later Mars landers Phoenix in 2008 and Curiosity (Mars Science Laboratory) in 2012; it also obtained photos of these spacecraft during and after landing. 2005 MRO information, images and links at SEDS, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter homepage (JPL), Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter info (NSSDC), Mars 2003 and 2005 page (NSSDC)
2007 August 4, Delta II
Phoenix - the selcted Mars 2007 Small Scout Missions (Nasa): An in-situ volatile and organic molecule survey (LPL/Univ of Arizona). Successfully softlanded on Mars on May 25, 2008, in the North polar region of the Red Planet, performed an extensive scientific program including investigation of soil samples, obtaining images and data, and discovered water ice. Mission ended with the arrival of polar winter and polar night at the site in November 2008. Phoenix informations, images and links from SEDS; Phoenix homepage (LPL, University of Arizona); Phoenix info (JPL); Scout Mission Press Release (Nasa HQ PR 01-122, June 13, 2001); Phoenix info (NSSDC) Mars 2007 and beyond page (NSSDC); UA Press Release, December 6, 2002; Nasa Press Release 02-238 of Dec 6, 2002, Solar System Exploration: Missions: Mars: Mars Scout (JPL)
2007 September 27, Delta 7925H, currently in interplanetary cruise.
Dawn (Nasa). On its way to asteroids Vesta and Ceres, this spacecraft did a successful fly-by of Mars for gravity assist on February 17, 2009, and took some images and measurements. It now continues its journey to reach and fly-by asteroid Vesta in 2011 and 2012, and then Ceres in 2015. Dawn Mission News on Mars Flyby (Nasa, February 19, 2009); Dawn Spacecraft View of Mars (JPL, February 20, 2009); Planetary Science Institute PR. Dawn Homepage (JPL); Dawn Mission Page (Nasa); Dawn informations (NSSDC)
2011 November 8, Zenit 3-F.
Phobos-Grunt (Russia). Sample return mission to Martian moon Phobos. Launched on November 8, 2011, together with Chinese Ying Huo 1, on the same Zenit 3F rocket. Contact was lost to spacecraft in Low Earth Orbit, partly re-established around November 20, but eventually all recovery attempts were unsuccessful: Spacecraft suffered reentry on January 15, 2012, debris fell into the Pacific off the coast of Chile. Plans had been to arrive at Mars in October 2012, rendez-vous with Phobos to collect soil samples, and return to Earth in August 2014. Originally scheduled for launch in October 2009, this mission had been delayed to 2011. Phobos-Grunt info (NSSDC),
2011 November 8, Zenit 3-F.
Ying Huo 1 (China). Mars orbiter. Launched on November 8, 2011, together with Russian Phobos-Grunt, and together with that stranded in Low Earth Orbit, and eventually suffered reentry together with that spacecraft on January 15, 2012. It had been scheduled to arrive in Mars orbit in October 2012. Originally scheduled for launch in late 2009. Yinghuo-1 info (NSSDC),
2011 November 26, Atlas 5, currently operating on the surface of Mars.
Curiosity, Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), Mars Smart Lander, Mars 2009 Mobile Scientific Laboratory (Nasa): Formerly scheduled for 2007 and later in 2009, the spacecraft was successfully launched on November 26, 2011. After an 8-month interplanetary cruise, it arrived at Mars and successfully softlanded on Mars on August 6, 2012. It includes new technologies: A small long-range, long-duration rover powered by a small nuclear reactor, equipped to perform many scientific studies of Mars, and to demonstrate the technology for accurate landing and hazard avoidance in order to travel to difficult-to-reach sites. Mars Science Laboratory information, images and links from SEDS; Mars Science Laboratory, Curiosity mission page (Nasa), MSL homepage and MSL news (JPL), MSL page (JPL), Smart Lander page (JPL), Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) info (NSSDC), Mars 2007 and beyond page (NSSDC)
2013 November 5, PSLV-C25
Mangalyaan (India). Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM). Arrived at Mars on September 23, 2014, operating in Mars orbit. ISRO's MOM page. MOM on Gunter's Space Page. Mangalyaan info (NSSDC),
2013 November 18, Atlas V
MAVEN (Nasa). Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution Mission. Orbiter to explore the planet's upper atmosphere, ionosphere and interactions with the sun and solar wind. Mars Orbit Insertion occured on September 21, 2014, and is currently operating in Mars orbit. MAVEN information, images and links from SEDS; MAVEN homepage at LASP (Laboratory for Atmosphericand Space Physics), University of Colorado at Boulder; MAVEN mission page (NASA); MAVEN info (NSSDC)
2016 March 14, Proton-M/Briz-M P4
ExoMars 2016 (ESA). Includes an orbiter and a demonstration lander. Formerly scheduled ExoMars rover now postponed and to be carried with NASA's cancelled Mars 2018. To arrive at Mars in October 2016. The demonstration lander (EDM: Entry Descent and Landing Demonstration Module) is designed for a 1-week demonstration study on Mars surface, the orbiter is to perform a 5-year scientific program from Mars orbit, through 2022. ExoMars 2016 homepage and ExoMars general info (ESA)

Missions currently under way:
2001 April 7, Delta II, currently operating in Mars orbit.
2001 Mars Odyssey, Mars Surveyor 2001 Orbiter (Nasa). Mars orbiter. After an interplanetary cruise of more than 6 months, the spacecraft was successfully inserted into Mars orbit on October 23, 2001 (PST; Oct 24 UT). This mission is to perform the research originally scheduled for the lost Mars Climate Orbiter (Mars Surveyor 1998 Orbiter), i.e., Mars wheather and climate. It is also intended to test aerocapture techniques, study Mars from orbit, serve as communications relay for future landers.
2003 June 2, Soyuz-Fregat, currently operating in Mars orbit.
Mars Express (ESA), Orbiter Mars Express and a Lander named Beagle 2. Mars Express orbiter was successfully inserted into the Martian orbit on December 25, 2003. The Beagle 2 lander was successfully separated on December 19, and reached Mars in direct approach on December 25, 2003. Unfortunately, the lander could not be contacted after landing despite intensive efforts for several weeks to establish communication or clear up the lander's state, and is now believed and declared lost. The Mars Express orbiter started its scientific mission and is busily taking photographs and data from its orbit around Mars.
2003 July 7, Delta 2 (7425), currently operating on the surface of Mars.
Opportunity, 2003 Mars Exploration Rover 1, MER-1, MER-B, Mars Surveyor 2003 Lander/Rover B (Nasa). Second of two sister spacecraft (the other is Mars Exploration Rover A, Spirit). A large (~130 kg) rover based on the Athena Rover concept, to land using an airbag system, without stationary lander. Successful softlanding occurred on January 25, 2004, 5:05 UT (January 24, 9:05 p.m. PST) in the Meridiani Terra region on Mars. The lander is corrently investigating the landing site region; operations are scheduled to last for at least 90 days.
2005 August 12, Atlas V, currently operating in Mars orbit.
Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, MRO, Mars Surveyor 2005 Orbiter (Nasa). Arrived at Mars on March 10, 2006, inserted into highly-excentric orbit, which was lowered during aerobraking phase until Noveber 2006. It is performing an extensive study of Mars from orbit during its science mission from November 2006 onward, performed high-resolution measurements including images with a resolution of 20 to 30 cm, including photographs of old and new Mars landers and rovers. It also served as communications relay for later Mars landers Phoenix in 2008 and Curiosity (Mars Science Laboratory) in 2012; it also obtained photos of these spacecraft during and after landing. 2005 MRO information, images and links at SEDS, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter homepage (JPL)
2011 November 26, Atlas 5, currently operating on the surface of Mars.
Curiosity, Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), Mars Smart Lander, Mars 2009 Mobile Scientific Laboratory (Nasa): Formerly scheduled for 2007 and later in 2009, the spacecraft was successfully launched on November 26, 2011. After an 8-month interplanetary cruise, it arrived at Mars and successfully softlanded on Mars on August 6, 2012. It includes new technologies: A small long-range, long-duration rover powered by a small nuclear reactor, equipped to perform many scientific studies of Mars, and to demonstrate the technology for accurate landing and hazard avoidance in order to travel to difficult-to-reach sites. Mars Science Laboratory information, images and links from SEDS; Mars Science Laboratory, Curiosity mission page (Nasa), MSL homepage and MSL news (JPL), MSL page (JPL), Mars 2007 and beyond page (NSSDC)
2013 November 5, PSLV-C25, currently in interplanetary cruise.
Mangalyaan (India). Mars Orbiter Mission. To arrive at Mars on September 24, 2014. ISRO's MOM page. MOM on Gunter's Space Page.
2013 November 18, Atlas V, currently in interplanetary cruise.
MAVEN, Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution Mission (Nasa). Orbiter to explore the planet's upper atmosphere, ionosphere and interactions with the sun and solar wind. Mars Orbit Insertion is scheduled to occur arround September 22, 2014. MAVEN information, images and links from SEDS; MAVEN homepage at LASP (Laboratory for Atmosphericand Space Physics), University of Colorado at Boulder; MAVEN mission page (NASA); MAVEN info (NSSDC)
2016 March 14, Proton-M/Briz-M P4
ExoMars 2016 (ESA). Includes an orbiter and a demonstration lander. Formerly scheduled ExoMars rover now postponed and to be carried with NASA's cancelled Mars 2018. To arrive at Mars in October 2016. The demonstration lander (EDM: Entry Descent and Landing Demonstration Module) is designed for a 1-week demonstration study on Mars surface, the orbiter is to perform a 5-year scientific program from Mars orbit, through 2022. ExoMars 2016 homepage and ExoMars general info (ESA)

Missions scheduled for the future:
2018 May 5
InSight (NASA). InSight (Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport) is a Mars lander mission. Scheduled to land on Mars, and operate on surface for about 720 days. Formerly scheduled for launch in March 2016, landing September 2016. A stationary lander, it is to study the interior of Mars at its landing site, using geophysical instrunents. InSight information, images and links from SEDS; InSight homepage (Nasa)
2018 May, Proton-M/Briz-M P4
ExoMars 2018 (ESA/Russia). Consists of a Russian surface platform and ESA's ExoMars rover. ExoMars rover will be a highly mobile rover, weighing up to 200 kilogrammes. It is to collect samples with a drill and do complex analysis. ExoMars 2018 homepage and ExoMars general info (ESA)
2020 July
Mars 2020 (Nasa) Also preliminarily nicknamed Curiosity 2. Mars science rover mission, details to be defined. Mars 2020 information, images and links from SEDS; Nasa Announces Multi-Year Mars Program (Dec 4, 2012); Mars Future Rover Plans and news (JPL); 2020 Mission Plans (JPL)
Note: Some missions are still in the early planning stage.

For the time after 2020, a continuation of the research missions is planned. Detailed plans are still to be worked out, and should utilize the newly acquired knowledge of the current and scheduled Mars missions.

  • Nasa Announce: Multi-Year Mars Program (December 4, 2012)


    Crewed Missions to Mars

    Since the 1950s and earlier, numerous investigations, plans and proposals have been outlined and published for a crewed mission or crewed missions to Mars. The relevant science and technology is basically longly known and steadily improving. Current preliminary estimates, given by current US government and elsewhere, place the timeframe to around the 2030s (see Nasa's Journey to Mars webpage, around 2016..). The opinion of the present author is that, persistent political willingness given, such a mission could be achieved within about 10 years after commencing the effort.

    Formerly, Nasa officials had expressed their intention that these efforts should eventually be leading to a Mars mission with a human crew to be launched in 2018 (and to arrive at Mars in 2019), and to begin an era of permanent human presence on our neighbor planet. These dates are under steady review, with the aim to do the mission sooner: CNN reported of (now outdated) plans for a manned mission in 2012, while also dates as early as 2007 have been proposed.

    A vision presented by the President of the United States in January, 2004 had proposed a crewed Mars mission following the establishment of a permanantly crewed Moon base which should be built between 2015 and 2020, after completing the assembly of the International Space Station and the development of a new space transportation system in about 2010. In the scenario of this plan, a crewed Mars mission could have occured in or after the year 2019, also to celebrate the 50th anniversary of 1969 Moon landing.

  • A Crewed Mission to Mars ... Scenario (NSSDC)


    Modified mission - once scheduled to include Mars, eventually it went another way ..

    1998 October 24 - not a Mars mission!, Delta II
    Deep Space 1 (Nasa). This technology validation mission was originally scheduled as an Asteroid/Mars/Comet flyby mission, with scheduled Mars encounter on April 18, 2000; it was also to fly by asteroid McAuliffe and Comet West-Kohoutek-Ikemura. With launch shifted from 1998 July 1 to 1998 October 24, this mission was newly targetted and no more included a Mars flyby. Instead, the small space probe passed by asteroid 1992 KD (renamed Braille) on July 29, 1999, and was then aimed to comets Wilson-Harrington (in January 2001) and Borrelly (September 2001). Due to technical problems, the Wilson-Harrington encounter was cancelled, but the September 22, 2001 encounter with comet Borrelly provided many data and images. Deep Space 1 homepage - images - Deep Space 1 (NSSDC) - Deep Space 1 (Stardust Program) - Intended Mars swingby
    Cancelled Missions which have been studied, scheduled and partially funded:
    1970s
    Voyager Mars Orbiters and Landers (Nasa). Two orbiters and landers to be launched on one single Saturn V.
    2001
    Russia's Mars 2001. Its mission would have include da rover and/or surface stations with possible international participation.
    2001 April
    Mars Surveyor 2001 Lander (Nasa). This mission has been cancelled and replaced by the Mars Surveyor 2003 double-rover missions. It was to carry a rover (Athena), perform studies on Mars surface. Mars Surveyor 2001 Lander and Rover info (NSSDC)
    2003
    Mars Surveyor 2003 Orbiter (Nasa). To study Mars from orbit, and serve as communications relay. Replaced by double-rover mission. Mars 2003 and 2005 page (NSSDC)
    2003
    Mars Surveyor 2003 Lander (Nasa). To carry a rover, and perform various studies on Martian surface. Replaced by double-rover mission. Mars 2003 and 2005 page (NSSDC)
    2005
    Mars ISRU (Nasa). Mars Sample Return Mission. To return Martian soil samples, possibly collected by the rover of either Mars Surveyor 2001 or 2003 Lander. Mars ISRU Sample Return (MISR) mission
    Formerly proposed for launch in 2007:
    Mars 2007 Small Scout Missions (Nasa), tentatively scheduled for launch in December 2006, arrival at Mars February, 2009, science mission February to August, 2009. One or more of a series of small "scout" missions, including small landers, airplanes and balloons. Nasa Press Release 02-238 of Dec 6, 2002, Solar System Exploration: Missions: Mars: Mars Scout (JPL), Mars 2003 and 2005 page (NSSDC), 2005 and Beyond (JPL)
    The proposed missions selected for study are, besides the selected winner Phoenix:
    2007 Late
    Mars 2007 Remote Sensing Orbiter (CNES, French Space Agency): Remote Sensing Orbiter. Mars 2003 and 2005 page (NSSDC)
    2007 Late, Ariane V
    Mars 2007 Netlanders (CNES, French Space Agency): Network of 4 small landers to perform scientific measurements on the surface of Mars over one Martian year. Netlander homepage; Mars 2003 and 2005 page (NSSDC)
    2007 Late
    Mars 2007 Communications Orbiter (ASI, Italian Space Agency): Communications orbiter for Netlanders and future missions. Mars 2003 and 2005 page (NSSDC)
    2009 September
    Mars 2009 Telecommunications Orbiter (Nasa): To be launched in September 2009 and to arrive at Mars in September 2010. Telecommunications Satellite, to serve as communications relay for Mars missions for about 10 years, until about 2020. 2009 Mars Telecommunications Orbiter information, images and links from SEDS; Mars Telecommunications Orbiter info (JPL)
    2009 Late
    Mars 2009 Small Net-Landers (Nasa, France; under study). Possible Small Net-Landers. Mars 2003 and 2005 page (NSSDC)
    2009 Late
    Beagle 2: Evolution (ESA). Mars Lander.
    2014
    Mars Scout 2 (Nasa). A mission succeeding and extending the 2007 Mars Scout, Phoenix; details to be defined. Mars Beyond 2009 page (JPL); Mars 2003 and 2005 page (NSSDC)
    2014
    Mars 2014 (Nasa; possible participations from France and Italy) Possibly first sample return mission. Mars Beyond 2009 page (JPL); Mars 2003 and 2005 page (NSSDC)
    2016
    Mars 2016 (Nasa, international?; under study). Possibly another sample return mission, or orbiters, landers, rovers. May include a Mars Astrobiology Field Laboratory, or Deep Drilling or other technologies. Mars Beyond 2009 page (JPL); Mars 2003 and 2005 page (NSSDC)
    2018 May
    Mars 2018 (NASA). Lander to carry two rovers: Nasa rover plus ESA's ExoMars rover. Descent module will work as "sky crane" similar to MSL. Nasa rover should collect soil and rock samples for future pick-up mission. ExoMars rover will be a highly mobile rover, weighing up to 200 kilogrammes. The ExoMars rover is now scheduled for independent launch in 2018.


    References

    Links

    We are looking for mission logos for all missions which don't yet have them here; contact me !


    Hartmut Frommert
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    Last Modification: April 19, 2016