A momentous occasion has been bestowed upon us. The Mars Polar Lander will tryto reach its destination of Mars’ southern polar ice cap.
The Lander waspresumed to touch down on Friday December 3, 1999. It was launched from CapeCanaveral Air Force Station Space Launch Complex 17 on January 3, 1999 andhopefully it has finally reached the surfaces of Mars. This mission is worth$327. 6 million total for both orbiter and Lander (not including Deep Space 2). Those figures come from $193.
1 million for spacecraft development, $91. 7 millionfor launch, and $42. 8 million for mission operations. March 1, 2000 is theanticipated end of the Primary Mission.Order now
This truly a feat of humankind toexplore and decipher the landscape of the “red” planet. “Why would weconsider tampering with the planet in the first place?” a lot of people wouldask. Some of these reasons are pretty obvious. It all started in the late1870’s, when Giovanni Schiaparelli viewed what seemed to be canals. Thesecanals started from each respectable pole and seemed as if these canalstransported water to various areas of the planet.
This observation sparked moreexploration. Although, with the limited resources back then, there was not muchthey could do. Times have changed and with the available technology, the feat ispossible. Exploration has expanded, and we have learned various new things aboutthe planet. Many missions have went to Mars and explored since the firstfascination with this planet and more is still to learn.
Hence the purpose ofthe mission that is upon us. Another reason for the exploration is that Mars isthe next most inhabitable planet, next to the earth, in the Solar System. Wewonder if that in a couple of year that we can live there. But all that is inthe far future. The Landscape of Mars is rather treacherous, learned fromprevious missions. The polar regions of Mars are sometimes cold enough to freezecarbon dioxide into “dry ice”, something that never happens naturallyon Earth.
Scientists hope to learn about Mars’ climate by studying layers ofdust and possibly ice during the 90-day mission. Instruments will measure vaporin the atmosphere, while a claw on the spacecraft will collect samples to becooked and analyzed for water. The 3 1/2-foot-tall, 2-foot-wide Lander was toset down in a never-explored region so close to the South Pole that the sun willnot dip below the horizon during the mission. Though it will be late spring, theaverage temperature is expected to be minus-73 degrees Fahrenheit.
The probe islanding in a region that was said to be inhibited full of water. The water isbelieved to have made the planets rocky landscape. The geology ranges from deepcanyons, and even ancient shorelines. Tectonic plates play a vital role inpushing carbonates under the surface of the earth, contributing to the activevolcanoes across the earth.
There has been evidence on Mars that there have beenabundant volcanic activity in the past. Without tectonic plates, that has becomea mystery. Two theories have been expressed to explain Mars’ geology. One isthat the planet was once warm and boasted oceans, rivers and even a thickeratmosphere. The other says that the planet was always cold and was under a thicksheet of ice.
Regardless, which theory is true, it proves how much we really donot know about the “red” planet. Unfortunately, the Polar Lander has notreached its destination. The endless days have elapsed and the mission teamfears that all hope is lost. They have been trying desperately to communicatewith the Lander, but there is no response. The first days, but they remainedoptimistic.
Now as the days go by and the communications have failed. It seemsthey have given up hope. If they have given up hope, it will be for thismission, not for the missions to come.