The conquest of Mars: the first was the Soviet lander

Покорение Марса: первым был советский спускаемый аппарат

Alexandr Khrolenko, a columnist for RIA Novosti

2 December 1971 Russian scientists and space industry has made it almost impossible. A decade has passed since the first manned flight into space, portable computers did not exist, the rockets are much inferior to modern, and even just “to get to Mars” rocket from Earth at a minimum distance of 54.6 million km away — was not easy. Moreover, to deliver to the Martian orbit, about 5 tons of earth equipment. The position of the planets relative to the sun and the distance between them is constantly changing, the Earth and Mars move in their orbits at different speeds.

Soft landing is a separate complex scientific-technical problem. Not enough information on surface topography and properties of the Martian soil. In the rarefied atmosphere of the planet was raging strong winds, and it was unclear whether the bear lander test of strength. The aerodynamic design of the cone, parachutes, soft landing engines have chosen to work in a wide range of possible conditions of descent and characteristics of the Martian atmosphere.

“Mars-3” was the first spacecraft earthlings on the surface of the red planet. Data transfer with automatic Martian station began 1.5 minutes after landing on the surface, and stopped after 14.5 seconds. Experts believe that the reason for signal loss was the departure of the space station out of sight of the antenna of the lander. And yet it was a victory.

The signal from the Earth to Mars is 20 minutes, so the uptime of automation has made special demands. AMC had a complex control system: the gyro-stabilized platform, the onboard computer and instruments space Autonomous navigation. When you delete a station of 30 million km was conducted a simultaneous orientation to the Sun, the star Canopus and Earth. Control system weight of 167 kg and a power consumption of 800 watt was designed and manufactured by research Institute of automatics and instrument-making. The prototype became the system of the lunar Orbiter (OBC-530).

Structurally, “Mars-3” and “Mars 2” had a similar orbital compartment and the lander with automatic Martian station (overlapping each other). AMS had on Board two totelevision cameras with different focal lengths for photographing the planet’s surface. In addition, the “Mars-3” have the equipment for the joint Soviet-French experiment to study the Sun.

The main scientific instrument for measurements in interplanetary space and for exploring Mars and the planet from orbit an artificial satellite included: fluxgate magnetometer; an infrared radiometer to obtain maps of temperature distribution on the surface of Mars; an infrared photometer for studying the surface topography by measuring the amount of carbon dioxide; an optical device for determining the content of water vapor spectral method; ultraviolet photometer for determining the density of the upper atmosphere and content of atomic oxygen, hydrogen and argon, two totelevision camera.

After the third correction of interplanetary trajectory of the AMS lander “Mars-3” was separated from the space station. Solid propulsion translated it into the path of the encounter with Mars, the estimated point of entry into the planet’s atmosphere with a speed of 120 m/s.

The control system has deployed the lander conical brake screen forward in the direction of movement to provide a correctly oriented entering the atmosphere. The flight from split to enter the atmosphere lasted about 4.5 hours. The lander entered the atmosphere at an angle close to the calculated speeds of about 5.8 km / sec.

At the end portion of the aerodynamic braking on the supersonic flight worked exhaust and main parachutes. Then was dropped aerodynamic cone, and opened the antenna of the radio altimeter system a soft landing. Within a few minutes the speed dropped to 60 m/s and at a height of 20 meters load brake soft-landing engine. Another rocket engine separated from the parachute to the canopy did not cover the automatic Martian station. The calculation was accurate.

Landing took place at coordinates 45°, 158° West.d., on the flat bottom of a large crater Ptolemy, between areas Electrica and Fetonte. Professionals like the United States was able to repeat only three years later, on 20 July 1974.

Покорение Марса: первым был советский спускаемый аппарат
The image transferred from the surface of Mars of the automatic Martian station “Mars-3” in 14.5 seconds

Earlier, due to a software error on-Board automation, the lander AMC “Mars-2” has entered the Martian atmosphere at a steep angle, did not have time to brake and crashed into the point with coordinates 4° n. and 47° s.d. (27 November 1971). However, the orbital station AMC “Mars-2” over 8 months conducted a comprehensive research programme on the planet, having made dozens of turns, until the exhaustion of the resource systems in August 1972.

Martians living on Earth

Покорение Марса: первым был советский спускаемый аппарат
“ExoMars”-TGO transmitted to Earth the first images of Mars

The success of the station “Mars-3” initiated intense studies of this distant planet. 19 October 2016 on the Martian orbit came joint Russian-European mission “Eczemas-TGO”, and the instrument has transmitted to Earth pictures of Mars.

In the atmosphere of Mars, oxygen is a thousand times less than earth’s. There’s often the winds blow at a speed of 100 meters per second. The layered atmosphere is 95% carbon dioxide. The planet’s surface is riddled with craters many kilometers of gorges, and its mountain reach 26-km altitude. Ground water can be found only at great depths.

Despite the harshness of Mars, earthlings are actively developing programs (and even laws) colonization of the red planet. Many scientists consider the exploration of Mars the nearest future.

Anyway, our “Mars-3” will forever remain the “first scholar” of the red planet.