DETLEV VAN RAVENSWAAY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DETLEV VAN RAVENSWAAY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Mars Polar Lander. Artwork of the Mars Polar Lander about to land on Mars. This probe is due to be launched in January 1999. The lander's heat shield is glowing orange-white due to friction from Mars' atmosphere. This lightweight spacecraft is designed to study the soil and weather on Mars. It also has several imaging systems which will be used to photograph the terrain. A robot arm will be used to collect soil samples for on-board analysis. These will be tested for water, which will provide clues about possible Martian life in the planet's warmer, more hospitable past.
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