On This Day In Space: Nov. 7, 1996: Mars Global Surveyor launches to the Red Planet (Image Credit: Space.com)
On Nov. 7, 1996, NASA launched its Mars Global Surveyor mission. This was the first mission NASA sent to Mars in almost 20 years!
The Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft was an orbiter. It transmitted data from NASA’s Mars rovers Sojourner, Spirit and Opportunity back to Earth. The spacecraft also did a lot of its own science. It found surface channels on Mars that appeared to have been created by running water.
Mars Global Surveyor looked at the south pole of Mars and saw signs of possible climate change. It also saw a mineral called hematite on Mars. Hematite usually forms in water. NASA then sent its Spirit and Opportunity rovers to look for the hematite, and both rovers found it near their landing sites.
Mars Global Surveyor survived much longer than expected. But a space maneuver accidentally exposed one of its batteries to the sun, and the spacecraft lost power. It fell silent forever in November of 2006.
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