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 issues of NESTA's quarterly journal, The Earth Scientist
, full of classroom activities on different topics in Earth and space science, as well as books
on science education!
You might also be interested in:
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
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
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
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
The Mars 2005 mission is still in the planning stages. It is set to launch in the year 2005. ...more
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 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