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From The "JPL Universe"
January 9, 1998

Next generation: Mars '98

The Mars Surveyor '98 program is the next generation of spacecraft to be sent to Mars. Consisting of an orbiter--to be launched Dec. 10, 1998, and lander, set for launch on Jan. 3, 1999--the Mars '98 mission will add to the knowledge gained by the Global Surveyor and Pathfinder missions. The general science theme for the 1998 Surveyor missions is "Volatiles and Climate History."

The Mars '98 orbiter will arrive at Mars Sept. 23, 1999, while the lander will touch down Dec. 3, 1999.

Upon arrival at Mars, the spacecraft will use a series of aerobraking maneuvers to achieve a stable orbit, and then use atmospheric instruments and cameras to provide detailed information about the surface and climate of Mars.

The '98 orbiter mission will carry a rebuilt version of the Mars Observer Pressure Modulated Infrared Radiometer (PMIRR), as well as the Mars color imaging system. PMIRR will observe the global distribution and time variation of temperature, pressure, dust, water vapor and condensates in the Martian atmosphere. The imaging system will observe synoptically Martian atmospheric processes at global scale and study details of the interaction of the atmosphere with the surface at a variety of scales in both space and time. In addition to the science payload, the orbiter spacecraft will provide an on-orbit data relay capability for future U.S. and/or international surface stations.

The lander will land near the southern polar cap and is equipped with cameras, a robotics arm and instruments to measure the composition of the Martian soil. Two small microprobes are also piggybacking on the lander, which will penetrate into the Martian subsurface to detect water ice.

The science package for the lander includes the Mars Volatile and Climate Surveyor (MVACS) integrated lander payload, the Mars Descent Imager (MARDI) and an atmospheric lidar experiment provided by the Russian Space Agency Institute for Space Science. The integrated lander payload includes a surface stereo imager with Mars Pathfinder heritage; a meteorology package; an instrumented robotic arm for sample acquisition, soil manipulation and closeup imaging of the surface and subsurface; and the thermal and evolved gas analysis experiment for determining the nature and abundance of volatile material in the Martian soil.

The images obtained while the lander descends to the surface will establish the geological and physical context of the landing site. The atmospheric lidar experiment will determine the dust content of the Martian atmosphere above the landing site.

Dr. John McNamee of JPL is Mars Surveyor '98 project manager.

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