Aliens Crash Land Spacecrafts on Mars

Aliens Crash Land Spacecrafts on Mars

Have aliens crash landed all or a portion of their spacecraft onto the Martian surface? The answer is a resounding Yes! Read on to see who these aliens are, and which spacecrafts have crashed.

Dr. MMM of AstroPicionary has taught astronomy to 10,000+ students over 15+ years at a USA Carnegie Level R1 University. The author continues to teach more than 10 classes of astronomy and physics each year at different colleges and universities. She also authors textbooks in astronomy that are in use worldwide. Here, Dr. MMM discusses a topic that is interesting to learners in her classes that might be interesting to you too!

Who Are Aliens?

Simply put, aliens are being not currently on its home celestial object. The AstroPictionanry YouTube video explains this astronomy vocabulary word and gives examples of aliens.

YouTube video from AstroPictionary video glossary

Have Any Spacecrafts Crashed on Mars?

Many missions to Mars involve landing on the Martian surface. Several are crashes. Let’s look at some of these crashes.

First Crash Landing on Mars

The 1960’s see many losses of space craft, with only a few arriving at Mars. However, all that arrive are flybys. The 1970’s have more successful landings. In 1972, USSR Mars 2 lander becomes the first to reach the surface. It carries a rover along for the ride. Landers are stationary spacecraft, whereas rovers rove on the surface. The Mars 2 landing system fails, however, and the lander crashes to the surface as a result. Mars 2 is the first official crash landing on Mars by an alien space craft from Earth. Searching for Mars 2 continues.

A sketch below shows locations of various landers and rovers on the Martian surface. This interactive map links to sites explaining these landers’ and rovers’ missions. The topography map shows yellow as ground, which has a relative height of 0 km; highest elevations are +12 to +8 km above 0 km in whites and browns; pinks and reds are next highest at +8 to +3 km; the lowest elevations are in greens and blues from 0 km to -8 km. This interactive map also identifies more than 60 geographic features of Mars and includes links to descriptions of these features.

Interactive map courtesy of NASA under CC BY-SA 3.0

See the map for an Approximate location of Mars 2. Mars 2 is the color purple, indicating inactivity; peach colors also indicate inactivity. Red and blue colors indicate active rovers and landers, respectively, as of 2022. Let’s look at all of these landers and rovers in the next subsections.

Landings and Possible Crash Landings Prior to 1990

In 1972, USSR Mars 3 lander lands softly on the Martian surface. The lander communicates with Earth for about 20 seconds, after which time communication ceases. Whether the rover deploys is unknown. The rover is tethered to the lander, and communication is too short to establish a successful landing.

Approximate location of Mars 3 is shown in the map above. Shown below is a series of images taken in 2012 and 2013 using Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter HiRISE imaging camera. The series shows a parachute (bottom) blowing in the Martian wind; the parachute is still attached to the backshell (top). The backshell carries the parachute and components used during descent of a spacecraft.

HiRISE images courtesy of NASA/JPL/University of Arizona under Public Domain

A couple years later, another USSR lander is lost during descent to the Martian surface. In 1974, the Mars 6 parachute does deploy, slowing descent. However, whether rockets fire to further slow descent to surface is not known. This lander does transmit data while descending; however, data is not usable. Communication is lost during descent. Mars 6 may be another crash landing. See the map for the approximate location of Mars 6.

Shown below is a 2011 HiRISE image from Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. This FOV likely contains the Mars 6 lander. The bright white patch seen left, however, is most likely not the lander; it may be bright bedrock.

Image of region likely containing Mars 6 lander courtesy of NASA-JPL/CalTech/UArizona under Public Domain

USA has higher success reaching the Martian surface: In 1976, USA Viking 1 and 2 successfully land. Loss of contact with Viking 1 occurs in November 1982. Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter images the lander in 2006, confirming its last location. See the map for the approximate location of Viking 1.

Viking 2 lands with one leg on a Martian rock and others on the flatter Martian surface. In April 1980, lander batteries die. The location of Viking 2 is apparent in Mars Global Surveyor images. See the map for the approximate location of Viking 2.

Crash Landings in the 1990’s

In 1997, USA Mars Pathfinder rover Sojourner successfully lands. However, communication with the rover fails in October of that same year. See the map for the approximate location of Sojourner.

Shown below is the location of Mars PathFinder (see MPF). The image also identifies the location of the parachute and back shell. Besides housing the parachute, the backshell also acts as a part of the space craft’s heat shield. The image locates possible debris from other components making up the craft’s heat shield.

Image courtesy of NASA under Public Domain

The image above shows examples of how crashed manmade objects look relative to the Martian surface. Study these crashes. Now try to identify the location of Mars 6 image above. The more eyes scanning the image, the higher the chance of finding Mars 6!

Another crash landing occurs in 1999: Rockets that slow descent to the surface likely turn off too soon on USA’s Mars Polar Lander. The lander free falls about 40 m before hitting the Martian surface, near the southern pole of Mars. Aboard Mars Polar Lander is Deep Space 2, which are two space probes. Deep Space 2 deploys during Mars Polar Lander descent. However, communication ceases with the probes after descent. Besides Mars Polar Lander, Deep Space 2 may be another crash site. See the map for both Mars Polar Lander and Deep Space 2 possible locations.

Image courtesy of NASA/JPLMSSS under Public Domain

The image above shows possible crash sites of the Mars Polar Lander’s parachute (see image D) and lander itself (see image E). Images are from Mars Global Surveyor in 2004. Image E shows discolored soil that may be from the rocket’s blast during descent.

Let’s look at another possible crash landing in 2003.

Possible Crash Landing in 2003

In 2003, ESA/UK Beagle 2 Lander fails to communicate with Earth during descent. Whether Beagle 2 lands safely or not remains a mystery as it never communicates with Earth after landing. Beagle 2 could be another crash.

Images taken by Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter in 2013 and 2014 show the location of Beagle 2. As shown in the video below, NASA Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter finds that one or more solar panels may have deployed.

NASA/JPL YouTube video on Finding Beagle 2

Later studies reveal that Beagle 2 lands softly and three of four solar panels deploy. However, one solar panel does not fully open and may block the lander’s communication antennae. Alternatively, a hard landing may have damaged communication electronics. A third option is that the receiver fails to communicate with the lander.

Let’s look at the last known positions of landings from 2003 to 2015.

Last Known Positions of Landings 2003-2015

Many successful landings occur between 2003 and 2012. However, most stop working for one reason or another. Let’s look at a few:

In 2004, USA Mars Exploration Rover Spirit successfully lands and functions for over five years. In May 2009, the rover becomes permanently embedded in soft soil. The rover’s batteries cannot recharge, and communication is lost. See the map for Spirit’s approximate location.

That same year, USA Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity also lands and functions for a very long time. In June 2018, the rover becomes engulfed in a dust storm and stops communicating. See the map for the approximate location of Opportunity.

A few years later, USA Mars Lander Phoenix successfully touches down on the northern polar region in May 2008. The lander is not designed to last through a harsh Mars winter. In October 2008, Phoenix goes into safe mode due to insufficient light reaching the lander. Full loss of contact occurs in November of that same year. See the map for the approximate location of Phoenix.

Images from Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter locate Phoenix at its landing site in 2008 and in 2010: The 2008 image (below, left) shows two blue spots on either side of the lander that correspond to clean circular solar panels. The 2010 image (below, right) shows a dark body that is the lander. However, clean solar panels are not seen. The solar panels are encased in ice, which has severely damaged the panels.

2008 (left) and 2010 (right) image of Phoenix courtesy of NASA/JPL-CalTech/University of Arizona under Public Domain

In 2012, the USA Mars Science Laboratory Rover Curiosity lands successfully. Amazingly, the rover is still operational in 2022! See the map for Curiosity’s approximate location.

Let’s look at another crash landing that occurred in 2016. This one must have been spectacular!

A Spectacular Crash Landing in 2016

In 2016, ESA/Russia Schiaparelli EDL Demo Lander crashes to the Martian surface. The Schiaparelli lander communicates with Earth while descending, parachute deploys, and heat shield successfully releases. However, a bad calculation of altitude hampers landing: The parachute and back shell deploy too soon. Braking thrusters fire for only a few seconds rather than an estimated thirty seconds. The lander then activates ground systems as if it has already landed. However, the lander is still descending and has more than two miles to go. The lander free falls to the Martian surface.

Because the lander slams into dry soil at more than 180 mph, a manmade ~8 ft diameter crater forms. Depth of the manmade crater is around 1.5 ft.

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter locates debris from the crash a few days later. The 2016 image, below, is the crash site: Impact is at center left, with an enlargement at its right. Front heat shield impact is shown at upper right, with an enlargement at left. The parachute (white object) and rear heat shield (next to parachute) are at lower left, with an enlargement at right. All are within one mile of each other. To view these images with annotations, see the caption.

Image courtesy of NASA/JPL-CalTech/Univ. of Arizona under Public Domain

See the map for Schiaparelli’s approximate location.

How Are Landings Since 2016?

With each crash, scientists learn more about the Martian environment and the Martian surface. All crashes are learning events, given that scientists receive crash data.

In 2018, USA Mars InSight Lander successfully touches down and begins operation, studying the Martian interior and Martian quakes. It still functions as of 2022. Traveling in formation with InSight are twin CubeSats, which also successfully touch down in 2018. In January 2019, however, both CubeSats go silent. Both CubeSats no longer communicate from the Martian surface. See the map for InSight’s approximate location.

The year 2021 has more successes: China’s Tianwen-1 Zhurong successfully lands, searching for pockets of water beneath the surface. The rover still operates. See the map for Zhurong’s approximate location. That same year, USA Mars Perseverance Rover also successfully lands. This rover comes with helicopter Ingenuity. The rover searches for ancient signs of life with the aid of Ingenuity. Both currently operate. See the map for Persererance’s approximate location.

Shown below is wreckage from the landing of Perseverance on Mars. Image is by NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter at an altitude of about 26 ft. Most of the backshell of Perseverance is at center, with debris all around. Perseverance’s parachute is seen at upper left.

Image courtesy of NASA/JPL-CalTech under Public Domain

Summary of Alien Crash Landings

Earthlings have built many spacecraft for landing and roving on Mars, and many of these have crashed on the Martian surface. Earthlings are aliens to Mars. As such, alien spacecraft have crashed on Mars.

You can check out some of our other articles below.

Share this post

About the author

Michele M. Montgomery earned a B.S. Degree in Nuclear/Mechanical Engineering from the Pennsylvania State University, an M.S. Degree in Physics from The University of Alabama with a concentration in Solar Physics, and a Ph.D Degree in Physics from Florida Institute of Technology with a concentration in close binary star systems. She joined the faculty at The University of Central Florida Physics Department in 2004 where she regularly taught astronomy, astrophysics, and cosmology. In 2006, she noticed that a large, urban college nearby to UCF did not teach astronomy at one of their largest campuses. She began teaching astronomy at this East Campus of Valencia College, a college that has more than 60,000 students; she still teaches four courses of astronomy each fall, spring, and summer semesters. The astronomy program atValencia College East has grown significantly with several more faculty added who teach astronomy.

By 2019, Dr. Montgomery has taught astronomy to more than 10,000 college and university students, both online and face-to-face. Many of her students have gone on to take her astrobiology, astrophysics, and space physics courses. 

By 2016, Dr. Montgomery had co-authored several astronomy texts and quiz/exam banks. Her work appears in several domestic and international astronomy text books (e.g., Horizons by Cengage, Universe by Cengage, Foundations of Astronomy by Cengage) that are used both at the higher education as well as at the high school levels. Starting in Fall 2019, Dr. Montgomery switched gears to authoring digital textbooks and research full time, while still teaching 12 courses of astronomy and up to eight conceptual, algebra, and/or calculus-based physics courses each year. Her research interests are numerical simulations using Smoothed Particle Hydrodynamics of close binary star systems. She also regularly is granted telescope time on the NASA's Kepler space telescope for observing eclipsing binary star systems. She has also observed using Gemini South, Keck, and Kitt Peak ground-based telescopes. Her major teaching areas are Astronomy, Astrobiology, Astrophysics, Cosmology, Space Weather/Space Physics.