Mars penetrators

These were the first attempted planetary penetrators, lost when Mars 96 failed to leave Earth orbit. They carried an international payload and employed an innovative two-stage inflatable entry and descent braking device (Figure 19.1).

Target Objectives

Prime contractor Launch site, vehicle Launch date Arrival date

Landing site co-ordinates (planned) Nominal lifetime on Mars Mass(es)

Payload experiments

Delivery architecture

Thermal aspects Power aspects


• Imaging of the Martian surface

• Data on meteorology of the planet

• Chemistry of rocks

• Water content in Martian rocks

• Seismic activity of Mars

• Physical and mechanical characteristics of Martian regolith

• Magnetic field and magnetic properties of rocks NPO Lavochkin

Baikonour, Proton 8K82K/11S824M (on Mars 96 orbiter) 16/11/1996

(Would have been 12/09/1997) Penetrator 1 Penetrator 2

1 Earth year

62.5 kg each, incl. 17 kg braking system

• MEKOM meteorological instrumentation (Marov)

• PUI pressure & humidity transmitter (Harri, Polkko)

• P, T, humidity & wind sensors (Marov, Manuilov)

• Optical sensor (Esposito, Maki)

• PEGAS gamma ray spectrometer (Surkov, Moskaleva)

• ANGSTREM XRFS (Surkov, Dunchenko)

• ALPHA alpha-proton spectrometer (Wanke, Rieder)

• NEUTRON-P neutron spectrometer (Surkov, Scheglov)

• GRUNT accelerometers (Khavroshkin, Tsyplakov)

• TERMOZOND T sensors (Okhapkin)

• KAMERTON seismometer (Khavroshkin)

• IMAP-6 magnetometer (Zhuzgov)

Total mass 4.5 kg. The Project Scientist was Yuri A. Surkov Separation from Mars 96 orbiter after orbit insertion, spinning around longitudinal axis. 30 ms-1 deorbit burn Active heating radiator and passive insulation 0.5 W RTG + 150 W-h Li battery

Communications architecture EDL architecture

Landing speed(s) Active operations (deployments, etc.)

Key references

UHF relay at 8 kbits s 1 via Mars 96 orbiter or MGS

Entry at 5.6 km s-1. Separation of deorbit motor; inflation of entry shield; inflation of additional descent brake. Impact penetration loads damped by fluid reservoir shock absorber 60-80 m s-1 (planned)

Deployment of mast carrying antenna, camera, magnetometer, meteorological and wind sensors; extension and retraction of the TERMOZOND sensors Surkov, 1997; Surkov and Kremnev, 1998

Figure 19.1 Mars 96 Penetrators.

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