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Mars Global Surveyor Mission Overview - Windows to the Universe

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An Overview of the Mars Global Surveyor Mission

The mission of Mars Global Surveyor (MGS for short) is to map the surface of Mars from space, a mission somewhat like to the Magellan mission to Venus. The mission is also investigating the topmost portion of the Martian atmosphere and is making detailed observations of the Martian weather. MGS carries a lot of the same instruments that were carried by the lost Mars Observer mission.

MGS and Mars Pathfinder (MPF for short) were part of the Mars Surveyor Program. As part of this new, cheaper, but more experimental program, a new technique called aerobraking was used to get the MGS probe into the correct orbit around Mars.

MGS has already returned great pictures of the Martian surface and data which will help scientists refine their models of the Martian atmosphere. Among the important new results from the mission is the definite confirmation of the presence of a Martian magnetosphere.

As of April 25, 2001, all systems on the MGS probe were working just fine. The spacecraft has been in space 1,631 days and has completed 9,530 mapping orbits of Mars! And MGS is still going strong!

Last modified May 11, 2001 by Jennifer Bergman.

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF