Shop Windows to the Universe

Our Glaciers: Then and Now activity kit helps you see the changes taking place in glaciers around the world. See all our activity kits and classroom activities.
Some of the excited engineers and staff on landing day.
Click on image for full size
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA

Headlines declare: Mars Pathfinder Lands on July 4th

The Mars Pathfinder was launched in December 1996 on a Delta II rocket. The spacecraft entered the atmosphere on July 4th, 1997, where a heat shield, parachutes, and airbags helped it land.

After impact the lander put out three solar panels for power. Later on, a camera will map its surroundings, and the Sojourner rover will search the surface of Mars for rocks.

Long ago, 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 test rock and soil samples in this area.

Mars Pathfinder will finish its surface mission in August 1997.

The 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 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:

Traveling Nitrogen Classroom Activity Kit

Check out our online store - minerals, fossils, books, activities, jewelry, and household items!...more

Soils explored by the Rover

One of the objectives of the Mars Pathfinder mission was the examination of the composition of the soil and how it was laid down. As the Rover traversed the surface exploring the rocks of Mars, it also...more

The Mars Surveyor Program

Because of the failure of the Mars Observer (MO), NASA planned a new Mars Surveyor Program. The Surveyor Program was designed to explore all of the things the MO was suppose to, and a lot more. The Surveyor...more

An Overview of the Mars Pathfinder Mission

The goal of the Mars Pathfinder (MPF) mission was to analyze the rocks and soil of Mars. The MPF was actually 2 parts, a lander and a rover. The lander stayed right where it landed while the rover named...more

Mars Odyssey

The Mars Odyssey was launched April 7, 2001, from Florida. After a six-month, 285 million-mile journey, the Odyssey arrived at Mars on October 24, 2001. The Odyssey is in its aerobraking phase right now....more

Mars 2005

The Mars 2005 mission is still in the planning stages. It is set to launch in the year 2005. ...more

Aerobraking

The Mars Global Surveyor reached Mars in September of 1997. But it didn't make it into its final mapping orbit until February 1999. What took so long? Surveyor needed to reach a near-circular, low-altitude...more

Mars Global Surveyor Measures Olympus Mons

Mars Global Surveyor carries an instrument which measures the heights of things. This instrument is called an altimeter, or "altitude-meter". The graph to the left shows the results returned from Mars...more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF