Science & Technology

Russia marks 50th anniversary of reaching Mars’ surface

Moscow, Nov 27 (EFE).- Russia on Saturday marked the 50th anniversary of the Soviet Mars 2 becoming the first-ever spacecraft to reach the Martian surface, where it crashed.

“Of course, Mars 2 was a very important stage in our Martian investigations,” Mikhail Marov, who was part of the USSR’s planetary research program, told Efe.

“But the launch of the Mars 3 device shortly afterwards was much more important,” the academic added.

Mars 3, which was identical to its predecessor, was launched in May 1971, nine days after Mars 2.

“In general, the USSR paid great attention to the Mars research program and the launch of these devices in 1971 was, alongside the Venus program, one of the main tasks of planetary research,” the scientist said.

Dispatching space crafts to the red planet was difficult as the Soviet scientists did not have the ephemeris, the tables of values that allow to establish the positions of astronomical objects in the sky, he stressed.

The United States, meanwhile, had the necessary data but did not share it with the Soviets because of the Cold War. “Americans didn’t want us to be the first,” he said.

To overcome the lack of data, Soviet constructors and engineers proposed unique on-board navigation systems to take the necessary and process measures to guide a trip to Mars.

After a failed attempt to send a device to the red plant’s orbit ahead of Mars 2, it entered the Martian atmosphere at a sharper angle than calculated and thus it crashed, Marov said.

“It was the first device sent from Earth to Mars, although unfortunately, it was not very successful. But Mars 3 did it all flawlessly,” said the scientist.

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