First Soviet missions on Mars

First Soviet missions on Mars

The beginnings of the Soviet program for the exploration of Mars did not reap much success. The Mars1 M program (nicknamed Marsnik in most Western media) was the first Soviet program to send an unmanned spacecraft for interplanetary exploration.

However, none of the two probes launched in 1960, the Mars1960a and 1960b, managed to undertake their mission, because none of the shuttles were able to get enough strength to begin the ignition.

In the same way, the Mars 1962A, launched on October 24, 1962, and the Mars 1962B, which was launched at the end of December of the same year did not fulfill its mission due to the explosion produced during its trajectory.

The Mars 1 automatic ship was launched on Mars on November 1, 1962 with the intention of flying around the planet at a distance of about 11,000 kilometers from the red planet and taking surface images. However, the spacecraft was 106.76 million kilometers from Earth, when communications ceased due to a failure of its antenna orientation system.

Competing with NASA

The USSR intended to defeat the US Mariner program in the exploration of Mars. In May 1971, one day after NASA's Mariner 8 could not reach orbit due to a launch failure, Cosmos 419 (Mars 1971c), a heavy probe of the Soviet M-71 program, also failed to launch .

However, after this failure in the exploration of Mars came the triumph with the Mars 2 and 3, which were successfully launched in mid-May 1971. On November 27, 1971, the Mars 2 became the first object made for man to reach the surface of Mars. On December 2, 1971 the Mars 3 managed to be the first spacecraft to achieve a soft landing, but its transmission was interrupted after 14.5 seconds.

By August 22, 1972, after sending data and a total of 60 images, Mars 2 and 3 concluded their missions. The images and data allowed the creation of relief maps of the Martian soil, and provided much information about the gravity and magnetic fields of the planet.

In 1973, the Soviet Union sent four more probes within its Mars exploration program: Mars 4, 5, 6 and 7. All missions except Mars 7 returned data, with Mars 5 being the most successful.

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Mars exploration historyFirst attempts, the Mariner program