Launched from Cape Canaveral aboard a Titan 3 rocket on 9/25/92, this $900 million mission to Mars was the first in 17 years. The 450 million mile flight took 11 months. The 5,700 pound craft planned to arrive at Mars in August of 1993 and spend an entire Martian year, 687 Earth days, mapping the surface from an altitude of 240 miles. There have been 20 previous missions to Mars from the U.S. and Soviet Union. This Mars Explorer will circle the planet every 2 hours, passing over the same spot every 7 days and will send back more information than all the previous missions combined. High resolution cameras will resolve detail as small as 10 ft. Spectrometers will assess the abundance of elements on the surface and map the mineral content of rocks. It will map Martian frost and examine the composition of the clouds in its thin carbon dioxide atmosphere. Maps will be used to select sites for two unmanned spacecraft and two ground penetrating probes planned .
The last U.S. mission to Mars was the landing of two Viking spacecraft in 1976.
Solar System Illustration
Solar System Concepts
Solar System Exploration