The Mars 6 Landing, 12th March 1974

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B. Harvey (2007), JBIS, 60, 109-117

Refcode: 2007.60.109
Keywords: Soviet, space programme, Mars, Mars 6, landing, Gavril Tikhov, Mare Erythraeum

The Soviet Union sent five landers to Mars: 2MV3 in 1962; Mars 2 and 3 in 1971 and Mars 6 and 7 in 1973. Influenced by astrobiologist Gavril Tikhov, early Soviet designers believed that it would be possible to reach the surface of Mars using large parachutes. When the atmosphere was found to be much thinner than anticipated, the landers were redesigned to incorporate rockets. The Mars 2 and 3 missions were impeded by a poor level of navigational knowledge, making it difficult to achieve precise entry trajectories for the subsequent touchdowns. Despite that, Mars 3 achieved the first soft landing on Mars in 1971 and a brief surface transmission. Two years later, the Soviet Union achieved the first temperature and pressure profile of the atmosphere of Mars down to the surface when Mars 6 landed in the Mare Erythraeum on 12th March 1974. Because of internal debates within the Soviet space programme and the nature of news management at the time, the achievement of Mars 6 has been obscured.


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