The Mars Polar Lander, being tested in this image, will land on Mars in early December.
Click on image for full size
Courtesy of NASA
Mars Polar Lander Coming Soon!
News story originally written on December 1, 1999
Cross your fingers! The Mars Polar Lander is scheduled to meet the Red Planet on December 3, 1999. Unlike the Mars Climate Orbiter, which would have orbited Mars, the Polar Lander will actually land on the surface. A successful mission will help ease the loss of the Climate Orbiter a few months ago.
The Polar Lander will enter Mars' atmosphere and drop two probes, which will race towards the surface at high speeds. Each probe is the size of a grapefruit. If they survive the crash, the probes will dig into the ground to search for water. Scientists are hoping this experiment will lead the way for future probe missions.
Meanwhile, the Polar Lander will be gently floating down to the surface with the help of a parachute and two engines. If all goes as planned, the Polar Lander will soon be studying the south pole of Mars for signs of water. As of right now, scientists are not sure when, if ever, water was present on the planet.
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