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Mars-96 mission

Mars 96

Mars 96 was Russian empowered mission to explore the Red planet. The spacecraft included an orbiter, two small surface stations and two penetrators. The spacecraft was suppose to be launched in October 1994, but it was delayed for the next launch window of 16 November 1996. The trajectory would have taken the spacecraft to Mars in 10 months. Unfortunately, Mars-96 failed to reach the escape velocity. The spacecraft re-entered the Earth's atmosphere over the Pacific on 18 November.

FMI's Role

Finland was well represented regarding the surface stations. FMI together with the Finnish industry manufactured the central electronics units of the stations. These included the main computer and the power delivery subsystem. The power source was RTG charged battery. The station weighted about 30 kg with 8 kg of payload.

Besides the central units, the Finns were responsible for the meteorological instruments, some of which were installed in the penetrators as well. It is also important to notice that the surface station originated 1987 from a Finnish proposal on a meteorological network on the surface of Mars utilizing the Vaisala meteorological instruments for space applications.

Scientific Objectives and Partners

Mass and power constraints are a central issue into which the scientific aspects has to be integrated. The surface station comprised of seven scientific instruments of which the purpose was e.g. to conduct meteorological measurements, to analyse the chemical composition of the Martian soil, and to provide images. The instruments were supplied by Russian, Finnish, French, German and US partners. The stations were suppose to remain functional at least one Martian year, corresponding roughly two our years.

For additional information see the mission home page of the Russian IKI institute