Considering Mars' mean atmospheric pressure of 610 Pa (0.088 psi) its "sea level altitude", how high went the highest probe/rover that ever successfully landed on Mars so far (respectively, what's the lowest atmospheric pressure a probe on the Martian surface has ever been in), and how low/deep the lowest one (or what's the highest pressure a probe/rover has been in)?


1 Answer 1


I combed through Wikipedia's list of Mars missions and found all of the successful landers/rovers and included the Chinese Tianwen-1 though it has not landed successfully as of this answer. I got the elevations using Google Earth Pro which has an option to view Mars and uses MOLA data from the Mars Global Surveyor. I cross-checked the InSight one with the official value from 2018 MARS INSIGHT TRAJECTORY RECONSTRUCTION AND PERFORMANCE FROM LAUNCH THROUGH LANDING and it was correct:

Spacecraft / Mission: Latitude (°, N+): Longitude (°, E+): Elevation (m) Visible on Google Earth Pro?
Mars 3 -45 202 1654 no
Viking 1 22.27 312.05 -3637 yes
Viking 2 47.667569 -225.715758 -4451 yes
Mars Pathfinder 19.098 -33.25 -3682 yes
Spirit / MER-A -14.5684 175.472636 -1945 yes
Opportunity / MER-B -1.9462 354.4734 -1373 yes
Phoenix 68.2188 -125.7492 -4128 yes
Curiosity / MSL -4.5895 137.4417 -4447 no
InSight 4.5024 136.6234 -2613 no
Perseverance / Mars 2020 18.4446 77.4509 -2564 no
Tianwen-1 24.748 110.318 -4040 no

Elevations are relative to the MOLA geoid/areoid/equipotential surface. Locations taken from Wikipedia for all (less Tianwen-1), modified for some to place exactly on spacecraft in Google Earth Pro.

Wikipedia also has this nice graphic:

Wikipedia Mars graphic

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you. Mars 3 doesn't have a sharp image, so the highest "proper" mission is Opportunity so far. However, I dunno what is used as "elevation" on Google Mars and on WP's map. Hopefully, both are according to pressure rather than vale-to-peak altitudes. But I guess they probably are oriented on pressure altitude, or on mean radius which would be about the same. $\endgroup$
    – Giovanni
    May 7, 2021 at 17:10
  • $\begingroup$ @Giovanni they used to define 'zero-elevation' as a pressure but switched to a more consistent definition, see Areoid and Mars Zero Elevation $\endgroup$ May 7, 2021 at 17:22
  • $\begingroup$ So mean radius since 2001. However, as the Earth's sea level is defined at a certain pressure (29.92 inHg), the same method should be used on all celestial bodies with atmospheres. Or alternatively, the Earth's 0 altitude be defined as its mean radius. $\endgroup$
    – Giovanni
    May 7, 2021 at 17:53
  • $\begingroup$ @Giovanni you might find section 7.5 of Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter: Experiment summary after the first year of global mapping of Mars, Smith et al. interesting $\endgroup$ May 7, 2021 at 18:57
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Giovanni related $\endgroup$
    – SF.
    May 7, 2021 at 22:24

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.