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Mars Science

Probe Animation The Deep Space 2 probes are the first completely integrated and miniaturized systems built by NASA for space flight. Each probe will test technologies to prove they work in the harsh environment of space. Both probes are tiny data-gathering laboratories. Microinstruments in the lower spacecraft (forebody) collect a sample of soil and analyze it for water content. Data from the forebody is sent through a flexible cable to the upper spacecraft (aftbody) at the surface; a telecommunications system on the aftbody relays data to the Mars Global Surveyor Spacecraft, operating in orbit on its mapping mission.

QTVR of probe The microprobes are also revolutionary in the way they will plunge into Mars. Typical spacecraft use a parachute and rockets, as well as an aeroshell, to slow their descent through an atmosphere and land safely. The Deep Space 2 probes are the first spacecraft to use only an aeroshell. By eliminating parachutes and rockets, the probes are lighter and less expensive, but also very hardy. Similar in weight to a lap-top computer, they are designed to survive a high-speed impact, and to operate successfully in extremely low temperatures, something conventional miniaturized electronics, and standard spacecraft, could never do.

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This page last updated: November 24, 1999
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