Click on image for full size
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasedena, CA
Mars Pathfinder Lands on July 4th
News story originally written on June 30, 1997
The Mars Pathfinder was launched in December 1996 aboard a Delta II rocket. The spacecraft is en route right now to Mars. It will enter the Martian atmosphere with a Viking-derived heat shield and land with the help of parachutes, rocket thrusters, and airbags. Landing on the surface of Mars is scheduled for July 4th, 1997.
After impact the lander will deploy its three solar panels for power, the camera will map its surroundings, and the Sojourner rover will be positioned for deployment to the surface.
Eons ago it is thought that water flowed on the plains of Mars. The rocky plain that Mars Pathfinder is landing on is thought to be a previous flood plain. Its name is Ares Vallis. The Sojourner rover will use alpha proton x-ray spectrometry on rocks to take elemental composition measurements. The Ares Vallis landing area was chosen for the variety of rock and soil samples it may present.
Mars Pathfinder will finish its surface mission in August 1997.
Mars Pathfinder is a NASA Discovery Mission. The Pathfinder program was developed in three years and costs under $280 million dollars. It is actually the first of NASA's Discovery Program low-cost series of planetary missions. The motto of the program has become "faster, better, and cheaper"!
Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!
Our online store
includes fun classroom activities
for you and your students. Issues of NESTA's quarterly journal, The Earth Scientist
are also full of classroom activities on different topics in Earth and space science!
You might also be interested in:
It was another exciting and frustrating year for the space science program. It seemed that every step forward led to one backwards. Either way, NASA led the way to a great century of discovery. Unfortunately,...more
The Space Shuttle Discovery lifted off from Kennedy Space Center at 2:19 p.m. EST, October 29th. The sky was clear and the weather was great as Discovery took 8 1/2 minutes to reach orbit for the Unitied...more
A moon was discovered orbiting the asteroid, Eugenia. This is only the second time in history that a satellite has been seen circling an asteroid. A special mirror allowed scientists to find the moon...more
Will Russia ever put the service module for the International Space Station in space? NASA officials are demanding an answer from the Russian government. The necessary service module is currently waiting...more
During a period of about two days in early May, 1998, the ACE spacecraft was immersed in plasma associated with a coronal mass ejection (CME). The SWICS instrument on ACE, which determines unambiguously...more
J.S. Maini of the Canadian Forest Service has referred to forests as the "heart and lungs of the world." Forests reduce soil erosion, maintain water quality, contribute to atmospheric humidity and cloud...more
In late April through mid-May 2002, all five naked-eye planets are visible simultaneously in the night sky! This is includes Mercury which is generally very hard to see because of its proximity to the...more