|The Mars Global Surveyor is an American spacecraft which went into orbit around Mars on September 12, 1997 to conduct a detailed photographic survey of the planet beginning in March 1998. The spacecraft used a formerly untried technique called aerobraking to turn its initially highly elongated orbit into a circular orbit by dipping into the outer atmosphere of the planet. This was a $273 million project that began sending important data about the planet's surface at a quarter of the cost of the Mars Observer mission, which had failed in 1993 (Lawler, 2000).
Mars has long been a particular goal for space exploration. The planet has excited the human imagination, perhaps because of the many literary and dramatic works that suggested civilizations on Mars, and certainly because of the long-ago