The Mars Global Surveyor was a spacecraft designed by NASA and was launched in November of 1996. It performed atmospheric tests for determining proper aerobraking in the Martian atmosphere and studied the surface of Mars for possible landing sites for rovers. Despite originally being intended operational for just one Martian year (around 1.88 earth years) an unprecedented amount of mapping was performed by the spacecraft, causing its mission to be extended three times. It also studied Martian geology and climate and sent back valuable data for future human colonization. A remarkable photo of Earth was taken by the surveyor in 2003, showing the Earth in a "half-phase". In 2006 a motor controlling the surveyor's solar panels quit working and it went into safe mode and ceased to respond to commands from Earth. In 2007 the spacecraft's mission was officially concluded. It is now derelict in the Martian planetary system.

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