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This is an image of the Mars '98 spacecraft being prepared for launch.
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NASA

An Overview of the Mars '98 mission

The Mars '98 mission was designed to be a study of Martian climate, weather, and surface properties at the Martian south pole. Mars '98 was supposed to build upon the discoveries of the Mars Pathfinder and Mars Global Surveyor missions by digging into the Martian surface in search of water. The south pole of Mars is an important region because of the unusual terrain found there and the possiblility of that region affecting the overall weather and climate of Mars.

Mars '98 consisted of two spacecraft. One was a lander, dubbed the Martian Polar Lander, which was going to land on the surface of Mars and dig into the soil with a robot arm. The other was an orbiter named the Martian Climage Orbiter, which would have remained in orbit around Mars.

Unfortunately, both spacecraft were lost during the mission. A math error resulted in the orbiter to burning up in Mars' atmosphere. Also, contact with the lander was lost on December 3, 1999. The spacecraft has not been heard from again and no reason for the loss of signal is known.


Last modified April 25, 2001 by Jennifer Bergman.

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