The November Almanac
Mars Global Surveyor, the first spacecraft to visit Mars in 20 years, which will commence what is to be a decade-long series of small, relatively inexpensive missions intended to boost our understanding of Mars. The MGS will arrive in Mars's orbit next September; over two years it will survey the planet's topography, magnetism, mineral composition, and atmosphere. In the process the MGS will relay to Earth more information than has been gathered by all previous missions to Mars combined, even though its cost -- roughly $220 million -- is a small fraction of the cost of those missions. For those interested in Martian meteorology, a daily Martian weather report, sent back from the MGS, will be available on the Internet.
Illustrations by Susan LeVan
The Atlantic Monthly; November 1996; The November Almanac; Volume 278, No. 5; page 20.