Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Soviet Mars 3 lander may have been detected

In 1971 the Soviet Union launched a number of missions to land a probe on Mars. Mars 3 managed to land on the planet and transmit back to home... but then a few seconds later it went quiet. It still managed to become the first probe to land on Mars in a working condition... at least momentarily. It is a shame the probe failed as it was intended to be able to analyse the Martian soil, monitor the Martian magnetic field and even deploy a small "rover" Prop-M. Unfortunately apart from 70 lines from a partial image (that showed nothing identifiable) no useful data was sent back.

Nowadays Mars has been visited by a number of successful probes and rovers, some missions still ongoing, though what happened to Mars 3 remains a mystery and probably will remain so until some future astronaut on Mars investigates the probe. However at least the probe has been spotted on the surface or that is what Russian amateur space enthusiasts believe they have found in publicly available imagery from NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. They believe they have found the lander as well as its parachute and other debris.
NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

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