History

Mars Pathfinder on the surface of Mars

Mars Pathfinder on the surface of Mars

The Mars Pathfinder It was a US-launched spacecraft that landed on Mars on July 4, 1997.

This was an important step in the exploration of Mars, as it was originally designed as a technological test. It was tried to verify if it was possible to send a landing module with various instruments to the red planet, but, above all, if it was possible to put a robotic rover on the surface of the red planet.

The Mars Pathfinder was composed of a landing module, accompanied by a small robotic rover that was called Sojourner. This rover weighed just 10.6 kilograms, and could move across the surface of Mars on its wheels. In this way the Sojourner rover became the first vehicle that operated on the surface of Mars, with the important contribution this made in subsequent missions for the exploration of Mars.

The innovative landing method of the Mars Pathfinder consisted of a parachute that aimed to curb the descent into the atmosphere of Mars. All this together with a system of airbags, style airbags, which would cushion the impact during landing. Thanks to this new system, the Mars Pathfinder landed in the Ares Vallis of the red planet, a rocky area of ​​the Martian surface that was chosen as being relatively safe for landing.

In addition, the Mars Pathfinder mission was also a test for various technologies that were taken to Martian soil, such as the landing system based on an airbag we have already talked about, or an automated obstacle avoidance system, which would be used for years. later by the Mars Exploration Rovers in the exploration of Mars.

The Mars Pathfinder mission not only successfully achieved all its objectives, but also contributed a great deal of data on the planet Mars. Thus, it sent approximately 2.3 billion bits, more than 16,500 images from the space probe and 550 images from the rover. He also obtained the analysis of more than 15 chemicals contained in the rocks and soil of Mars, as well as various meteorological information about the planet.

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Mars Global Surveyor, NASA successThe Odyssey and Express missions