The Mars 96 mission, set for launch in November 1996, will carry an orbiter, two soft landers, and two surface penetrators to the Red Planet. The orbiter will include: 12 instruments that will study Mars; seven plasma measuring instruments; and three astrophysics instruments. Additional instruments will be located on the landers and penetrators that will conduct measurements at the surface.
Mars 96 will study the evolution of Mars, with special emphasis on studying the atmosphere, surface and interior. The spacecraft will create a high-resolution map of the surface and conduct measurements that will identify mineral deposits, surface composition, and crust structure. The spacecraft will measure seismic activity, magnetic fields, and heat flow while searching for active volcanos. Scientists will be able to monitor the martian climate, obtaining data on variations in atmopsheric pressure, composition, and temperatures.
Scientists will use Mars 96 to conduct plasma and astrophysics investigations. The plasma experiments include measuring the martian magnetic field, plasma wave characteristics, and the structure of the magnetosphere. The astrophysics investigations will include studying cosmic gamma ray bursts and the oscillations of the Sun and stars.