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Mars 2, 3 (Mars M71 #1, #2, #3)

Mars 3

Mars 3 Lander

The Mars M71 series was a Soviet series of Mars orbiters with landers. The Mars 2 lander became the first man-made object to reach the surface of Mars.

The probes consisted of an orbiter section and a landing capsule. They were built by NPO Lavochkin.

The orbiter's primary scientific objectives were to provide images of the Martian surface and clouds, to determine the temperature on Mars, to study the topography, composition and physical properties of the surface, to measure properties of the atmosphere, to monitor the solar wind and the interplanetary and Martian magnetic fields, and to act as a communications relay for the lander. Scientific instruments were generally turned on for about 30 minutes near periapsis.

The lander system consisted of a 2.9 m diameter conical aerodynamic heat shield, a parachute system, retro-rockets and the spherical 1.2 m diameter landing capsule. The lander was equipped with two television cameras with a 360 view of the surface, a mass spectrometer to study atmospheric composition, temperature, pressure, and wind sensors and devices to measure mechanical and chemical properties of the surface, including a mechanical scoop to search for organic materials and signs of life. It also contained a pennant with the State Emblem of the Soviet Union. Four aerials protruded from the top of the sphere to provide communications with the orbiter via an onboard radio system. The equipment was powered by batteries which were charged by the orbiter prior to separation. Temperature control was maintained through thermal insulation and a system of radiators. The landing capsule was sterilised before launch to prevent contamination of the Martian environment. Also carried was a 4.5 kg rover called Prop-M, which could mover around the capsule on skis and was connected with a 15 m umbilical.

The three probes of this series were launched by Proton-K Blok-D rockets from Baikonur.

The first probe in the series, launched on 10 May 1971, failed to leave earth parking orbit and was renamed Kosmos 419.

Mars 2 was successfully launched on 19 May 1971. It reached successfully a 18 hour Mars orbit of 1380 km × 24940 km, inclined 48.9. The landing attempt was conducted on 27 November 1971, but failed due to the paracute not deploying. The orbiter transmitted data during the period from December 1971 to March 1972, with other transmissions continueing through August.

Mars 3 was successfully sent towards Mars on 28 May 1971. The orbiter suffered from a partial loss of fuel and did not have enough to put itself into a planned 25-hour orbit. The engine instead performed a truncated burn to put the spacecraft into a highly-elliptical long-period (12 day, 19 hours) orbit about Mars. The lander performed the first soft landing on Mars on 2 December 1971. Although the landing was successful, signals were only recived for 14.5 seconds after landing, possibly due to electrostatic corona discharge caused by the global dust storm. The orbiter transmitted data during the period from December 1971 to March 1972, with other transmissions continueing through August.

Nation: USSR
Type / Application: Mars orbiter, landers
Contractors: NPO Lavochkin
Power: Solar arrays, batteries (orbiter); batteries (lander)
Mass: 4650 kg (total); 3440 kg (orbiter); 1210 kg (lander)
Orbit: 159 km × 174 km, 51.4 earth orbit (#Kosmos 419); 1380 km × 24940 km, 48.9 Martian orbit (#2), 1500 km × 211400 km, 60 Martian orbit (#3)
Satellite COSPAR Date LS Launch Vehicle Remarks
Kosmos 419 (Mars (2d)) (Mars-71 #1) 1971-042A 10.05.1971 Ba LC-81/23 P Proton-K Blok-D
Mars 2 (Mars-71 #2) 1971-045A 19.05.1971 Ba LC-81/24 Proton-K Blok-D
Mars 3 (Mars-71 #3) 1971-049A 28.05.1971 Ba LC-81/23 Proton-K Blok-D