The Mars Polar Lander WebCam is no longer active since the spacecraft was launched on January 3, 1999. Launch preparation time lapse movies are available, and the current position of the spacecraft is shown here.
The Mars Polar Lander spacecraft was successfully launched from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS) Space Launch Complex 17B (SLC-17B) on January 3, 1999. The lander will enter the Martian atmosphere directly from the hyperbolic transfer orbit at 7 km/s in December 1999. The lander spacecraft will decelerate to a soft landing using a heat shield to aerobrake, a parachute, and actively guided propulsion to reduce vertical velocity to less than 2.4 m/s and horizontal velocity to less than 1 m/s at surface touchdown. The lander will be targeted to the northernmost boundary of the polar layered deposits at a high southern latitude site, between 75 degrees and 80 degrees south latitude. The surface science mission will be conducted over the course of a 3 month primary mission. The landing will occur during late spring in the southern hemisphere and extend through the early summer season. The timing of the landing is optimal for a high southern latitude site because the sun is always above the horizon during the course of the primary mission providing maximum solar insolation and a relatively benign thermal environment.
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