Shop Windows to the Universe

Please help support Windows to the Universe, and our activities to help Earth and space science teachers, with a tax-exempt donation today!
This image shows the Mars Pathfinder lander and Rover.
Click on image for full size
NASA/JPL

An Overview of the Mars Pathfinder Mission

The Mars Pathfinder (MPF) mission was sent to investigate the geology of Mars. Its principal objective was to analyze the rocks and soil of Mars. The MPF consisted of 2 components, a lander and a mobile rover called "Sojourner" which could roam the surface.

In its study of the Martian terrain near the landing site, Pathfinder found sand dunes, pebbles and cobbles, wind drifts, and other evidences of a changing surface.

MPF also had the chance to explore Martian weather.

There was great excitement when Pathfinder landed on the surface of Mars on July 4, 1997. That excitement continued throughout the mission as the Rover was highly successful in exploring the geology of Mars. NASA's Mars Pathfinder mission was last heard from on September 27, 1997. It did operate on the surface of Mars three times longer than expected! Overall, the Pathfinder mission handed scientists a wealth of new knowledge about erosion processes and the surface geology of Mars.

Last modified April 25, 2001 by Jennifer Bergman.

Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!

Our online store includes books on science education, classroom activities in The Earth Scientist, mineral and fossil specimens, and educational games!

Windows to the Universe Community

News

Opportunities

You might also be interested in:

Rocks explored by the Rover

This diagram shows the path traveled by the Mars Pathfinder Rover during its 80 day mission. In addition to sampling the atmosphere, and the Martian soil, during it's travels on the Martian surface, the...more

MPF: Pebbles

This image shows pebbles found in the lee of a large rock. Pebbles found at the Mars Pathfinder landingsite were rounded, suggesting that water once flowed in the region, carrying rocks with it. The pebbly...more

Weather found by Mars Pathfinder

This is the first image showing clouds of Mars taken from the lander. Ground based viewing of Mars has shown that clouds seem to be plentiful only in the middle latitudes This may be because water of Mars...more

Weathering processes on Mars

There are two main weathering agents on Mars: wind and acid fog. Although acid fog can be very important, because large amounts of water are not readily accessible from the Martian surface, the action...more

Exploratour: NASA's Exploration for Life

The Mars Pathfinder mission was able to find out that the rocks of Mars can be studied in a way that is similar to the very same rock cycle on the Earth. Mars Pathfinder also verified that regions of Mars...more

Exploratour - Comparing the Surfaces of Earth and Mars

During it's travels on the Martian surface, Mars Pathfinder's Rover examined many different rocks as well as the Martian soil. These studies and measurements made during previous missions to Mars have...more

NASA Will Roam Around Mars with Rover

NASA has announced the next mission to visit the planet Mars. The Mars Exploration Program Rover will start its journey in 2003 and should reach the Red Planet in 2004. This rover will be a more advanced...more

Martian Surface Winds

The surface pressure of Mars is about 1/150th that of the surface pressure of the Earth. This means that there are much fewer molecules in the atmosphere. This means that the atmosphere near the surface...more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA