HENNING DALHOFF / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY HENNING DALHOFF / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Mars Polar Lander. Computer illustration of the Mars Polar Lander during its launch. This lightweight spacecraft, seen in the upper part of the rocket carrying it, was launched on January 3 1999. It was built to study the soil and weather on Mars. It has several imaging systems and a robot arm for the collection of soil samples for on-board analysis. Also on the mission were two microprobes. These were designed to hit the surface and bury small probes in the Martian soil to look for water in the deeper layers. Contact with the spacecraft was lost just before its expected landing on December 3 1999.
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