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Missions to Mars - Mars Global Surveyor

The Mars Global Surveyor mission was the first successful mission in 20 years - after the string of failures.

What makes the Mars Global Surveyor a remarkable experiment is that it used the concept of aerobraking to achieve orbit. Instead of using fuel and engine power to reduce speed during orbit, the orbiter used the atmosphere of Mars to reduce speed.

The probe was launched on November 7, 1996 and entered orbit on September 11, 1997. This mission is still in progress.

The purpose of the probe is to provide high resolution maps of Mars. It was these same types of maps that helped chose a landing site for the Mars Exploration Rovers.

An example of the image resolution capability is seen in the image below:

This image shows the location of the Opportunity rover and its target, the Endurance Crater. Additionally, the lander is also present.

The Mars Global Surveyor website will have up to date information on the status of the probe.

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