The Soviet Union’s Mars 3 lander plopped down on the Red Planet’s surface in 1971, making it the first spacecraft to arrive on Mars and then send data back to Earth.
The celebration was short-lived.
Less than 15 seconds after landing, communication with the lander was lost. It never came back.
After more than 40 years, a group of Mars enthusiasts from Russia think they have spotted hardware from the lander in images of Mars posted to the Internet, NASA said in a news release on Friday, April 11.
The images were taken by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, a satellite that has been circling Mars since 2006.
Here’s more from NASA:
Vitali Egorov from St. Petersburg, Russia, heads the largest Russian Internet community about Curiosity. His subscribers did the preliminary search for Mars 3 via crowdsourcing. Egorov modelled what Mars 3 hardware pieces should look like in a HiRISE image, and the group carefully searched the many small features in this large image, finding what appear to be viable candidates in the southern part of the scene. Each candidate has a size and shape consistent with the expected hardware, and they are arranged on the surface as expected from the entry, descent and landing sequence.
Arrows in the image above point to where the lander’s parachute, retrorocket, and heat shield might appear in the picture.
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