Some of the excited engineers and staff on landing day.
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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"!
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