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Amateur Astronomers May Have Found Long Lost Russian Mars Lander


 Mars 3

In 1971 , Russia put the first lander on Mars that survived its touchdown on the Red Planet, as Mars 3 was able to transmit data back from Mars to Earth — for a grand total of nearly 15 seconds. After that amazing quarter of a minute, Mars 3 went dark for unknown reasons, and was never heard from again, becoming lost to the annals of space exploration. Now, though, a group of Russian Mars enthusiasts working with recent photos from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) think they’ve found the wreckage of the long lost lander.

Vitaliy Egorov, a Russian space enthusiast, has been combing through photos taken by the MRO for years, and in 2007, found what he believed to be signs of the remains of Mars 3 — specifially, the parachute that would have softened Mars 3’s fall to the surface. Just not, you know, enough. He couldn’t be sure, though, so he did what any responsible scientist would do — backed off from making claims he couldn’t back up and continued looking for more evidence to support his claims. After other Russian scientists reached out to NASA, the space agency got a better look at the site with the MRO’s HIRISE camera earlier this year, and while it’s not a slam dunk yet, evidence is mounting that Egorov’s claims are on point.

The Planeteary Society has a guest post from Egorov, and he makes a compelling — though not yet ironclad — argument that he may finally have found the first lander to send back information from Mars — though tantalizingly little of it.

(via The Planetary Society)

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