This is a collection of five models representing NASA's surface exploration of Mars.
Viking I/II lander, 44983 Polygons
Sojourner Rover, 30587 Polygons
Spirit/Opportunity Rover, 19055 Polygons
Delta-II delivery system, 52523 Polygons
Scene model for the surface of Mars (as shown), 114346 Polygons
Textures included with each model. Templates available for the Mars Surface, and Delta II scene resources (as an extra download).
In 1976 the two Viking probes entered orbit about Mars and each released a lander module that made a successful soft landing on the planet's surface. The two missions returned the first color pictures and extensive scientific information. Measured temperatures at the landing sites ranged from 150 to 250 K, with a variation over a given day of 35 to 50 K. Seasonal dust storms, pressure changes, and movement of atmospheric gases between the polar caps were observed. A biology experiment produced possible evidence of life, but it was not corroborated by other on-board experiments. Most scientists believe there is not current life on Mars.
While searching for a suitable landing spot for Viking 2's lander, the Viking 1 orbiter photographed the landform that constitutes the so-called 'Face on Mars' on July 25, 1976.
The Viking program was a descendant of the cancelled Voyager program, whose name was later reused for a pair of outer solar system probes.
The Mars Pathfinder spacecraft, launched one month after Global Surveyor, landed on July 4, 1997. Its landing site was an ancient flood plain in Mars' northern hemisphere called Ares Vallis, which is among the rockiest parts of Mars. It carried a tiny remote-controlled rover called Sojourner, which traveled a few meters around the landing site, exploring the conditions and sampling rocks around it. Newspapers around the world carried images of the lander dispatching the rover to explore the surface of Mars in a way never done before at any extra-terrestrial location.
Until the final data transmission on September 27, 1997, Mars Pathfinder returned 16,500 images from the lander and 550 images from the rover, as well as more than 15 chemical analyses of rocks and soil and extensive data on winds and other weather factors. Findings from the investigations carried out by scientific instruments on both the lander and the rover suggest that Mars was at one time in its past warm and wet, with water existing in its liquid state and a thicker atmosphere. The mission website was the most heavily-trafficked up to that time.
Mars Exploration Rovers
Shortly after the launch of Mars Express, NASA sent a pair of twin rovers toward the planet as part of the Mars Exploration Rover Mission. On June 10, 2003, NASA's MER-A (Spirit) Mars Exploration Rover was launched. It successfully landed in Gusev Crater (believed once to have been a crater lake) on January 3, 2004. It examined rock and soil for evidence of the area's history of water. On July 7, 2003, a second rover, MER-B (Opportunity) was launched. It landed on January 24, 2004 in Meridiani Planum (where there are large deposits of hematite, indicating the presence of past water) to carry out similar geological work. Despite technical difficulties with the rovers (believed to have been caused by corrupted flash memory) delaying exploration for several days, both rovers eventually began exp