Mars Climate Orbiter Launched on December 11, 1998 and reached Mars on September 23, 1999. Unfortunately, this was one of the failed Martian missions. It’s main objective was to study the water ice on the polar caps and how it behaves during weather changes and study the weather and atmospheric changes on the red planet. It would also act as an interplanetary weather satellite as well a communication relay or the Mars Polar Lander.
- Observe the behavior of Martian dust and of volatile materials, such as carbon dioxide, water vapor, and water ice, for 1 full year.
- Determine how dust and volatile materials behave from season to season. Characterize the composition of the surface of Mars and how it changes over time and search for near surface water ice in the polar region.
- Understand how dust storms happen and how it affects the Martian atmosphere.
- Understand the history of the Martian Climate, which scientists believe to be close to Earth’s climate, meaning warm, full of water, and thicker atmosphere.
- Pressure Modulator Infrared Remote – Will be used to scan Mars’ atmosphere and measure its temperature, water vapor, dust, and condensate clouds.
- Mars Color Imager – Will provide daily images of the surface of Mars and its atmosphere as it orbits the red planet
The Mars Climate Orbiter is part of a series of Mars exploration missions aimed to understand the composition of the red planet’s surface and atmosphere as well as find traces of water.
Here’s a video of the successful launch of the Mars Climate Orbiter. It’s just so unfortunate that the orbiter got lost upon arrival. Some scientists conclude that the Mars Climate Orbiter must have entered the red planet’s atmosphere too low and it burned up.