Very ambitious mission, with a Space probe of more than 6 ton S, is the largest machine ever launched about Mars, it embarked more than 500 scientific kg of material. It was to carry out forty experiments, prepared by a score of country including eleven European and two American. Part of the mission was to proceed in orbit, the other on the ground with two automatic small stations and two penetrants which were to be inserted in the Martian ground. March 96 was to arrive in the suburbs of red planet the September 12th 1997, 10 months after its launching.
Launching and given engineering
Date and hour of launching: November 16th, 1996 with 20:48 53 UTC
- Place of launching: Tyuratam (Cosmodrome de Baikonur)
Mass of the vessel once on orbit:
- has vacuum (without fuel): 3159 kg
- Total weight: 6180 kg
Initially envisaged to be launched in 1994, the mission had being delayed following the problems of Russian space industry with the fall of the the USSR. March 96 left the Earth the November 16th 1996 on board a rocket Fusée Proton. Following a problem during the lighting of the fourth stage of the rocket, the probe could not leave the terrestrial orbit and disintegrated (after three orbital revolutions) in the high layer of the atmosphere. The November 17th 1996, between 0:45 and 01:30 (universal time), the probe disintegrated in a zone of 320 kilometers out of 80 kilometers, located between the Pacific Ocean, the Chile and the Bolivia.
For unknown reasons, the fourth stage of the rocket Proton (more exactly the " D" block; rocket) did not burn its fuel. As envisaged, the probe March 96 separated then from the stage of the rocket, by burning its fuel in order to leave the terrestrial orbit. But because of the dysfunction of the block D, the vessel burned its fuel in the terrestrial atmosphere, with an orbit well too low.
Part of the experiments will be taken again on the European probe Mars Express.
In addition to the orbitor, the mission March 96 included/understood two autonomous small stations, intended to study the physical properties and chemical surface Martian, passed and present.
The two penetrants of March 96 were assembled on the low part of the orbitor, close to the system of propulsion. These penetrants, made up of two rather thin cylinders were pointed downwards. The high part of the penetrant, much broader, was overcome of a top in the shape of funnel. The scientific instruments were stored over the entire length of the cylinder. The objectives scientific, multiple, were to obtain images of surface, to study the Martian Météorologie, to examine the physical properties, chemical and magnetic of the Régolithe Martian, by seeking possible water traces there. The mission was to also collect data on the Magnetic field of Mars, by recording a possible seismic activity there.
After orbital insertion, the Périapse was to be adjusted with 300 kilometers, after one period of orbital operations ranging between 7 and 28 days. The orbitor was to then be correctly directed, in order to release the first penetrant, which would have turned on its axis. Once detached of the orbitor, the engine integrated into the penetrant was to start, in order to begin the atmospheric Rentrée, at the speed of 4.9 kilometers a second, to an angle ranging between 10 and 14 degrees. The atmospheric re-entry itself was to have place 21 or 22 hours after the separation of the orbitor. The probe would have been braked thanks to its airfoil, but also thanks to an integrated screw-locking device (a inflatable balloon). The impact with surface was to take place with 80 meters a second. At the time of the contact with the Martian ground, the low part of the probe would have disunited remainder of the penetrant, in order to be inserted to 5 or 6 meters in the ground, while remaining attached to the remainder of the probe by a series of cables, the high part of the penetrant remaining with the top of surface. The first probe was to be posed near the lander , and the second with 90 degrees from there. The two penetrants were to be sent at the time of the same orbital revolution.
The part intended to be inserted in the Martian ground included/understood a seismometer, an accelerometer, a thermal probe, a detector of neutrons and a Spectromètre with x-rays Alpha - Proton. The upper part of the probe was equipped with a Spectromètre with gamma rays, of a thermal probe, sensors intended to study the Martian Météorologie, of a Magnétomètre, a Caméra of television and of a transmitter at the top. The scientific experiments were to start the impact shortly after. The collected data were to be transmitted to the orbitor, then relayed with the Earth. The nominal lifespan of the penetrants was estimated at one year.
- Official site of the mission March 96.
- Description of the mission on the site of the '' national center of space data '' of NASA This official site of NASA was used as source for the drafting of this article.
- Description of the mission on the site of the '' Malin Space Science Systems ''.
- Description of the mission on the site of Philippe Labro.
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