Mars Climate Orbiter. Artwork of the Mars Climate Orbiter over Mars. The Mars Climate Orbiter was launched on 11th December 1998. This lightweight spacecraft is designed to study the history of climate change on Mars. It will occupy a 400 kilometre altitude, nearly circular polar orbit, from which it will study Mars for a full Martian year (687 Earth days). As well as studying the planet, it will provide relay support for the Mars Polar Lander mission, to be launched about a month after the Orbiter. After the end of the lander's mission, the Orbiter will provide support for subsequent Martian landers.
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