DETLEV VAN RAVENSWAAY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DETLEV VAN RAVENSWAAY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Mars Climate Orbiter. Artwork of the Mars Climate Orbiter over Mars. The Mars Climate Orbiter is due for a launch in 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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