This is an engineering model for a planned Russian scientific probe that would land on the surface of Mars. The Mars 96 mission was going to be a multi-national and multi-mission exploration of Mars, which was to follow the successful Venus probes Vega 1 and 2 of the previous decade. Unfortunately, the first missions in this series, Phobos 1 and 2, failed to accomplish their goals, and the Mars 96 mission failed to reach Mars. Nevertheless, this small surface station is an excellent example of the hardware design that Lavochkin Company of Russia has refined during its thirty-five years of building planetary probes.
The actual station carried experiments from France, Finland, Germany and the US inside the Russian-made bus. Of the four experimental slots in the block, the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory's back up of the Mars Oxidation Experiment (MOx) occupies one. That experiment was the United States' contribution to the mission.
The Jet Propulsion Laboratory transferred this object to the museum in 2001.
Transferred from NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory