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)?


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 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 $\endgroup$ – BrendanLuke15 May 7 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 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 $\endgroup$ – BrendanLuke15 May 7 at 18:57
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Giovanni related $\endgroup$ – SF. May 7 at 22:24

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