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Join date : 2010-09-30

PostSubject: Mars Pathfinder   Thu 06 Jan 2011, 6:09 pm

Main article: Mars Pathfinder

The Mars Pathfinder (MESUR Pathfinder,[34]) later renamed the Carl Sagan Memorial Station, was launched on December 4, 1996, just a month after the Mars Global Surveyor was launched. Onboard the lander was a small rover called Sojourner that would execute many experiments on the Martian surface. It was the second project from NASA's Discovery Program, which promotes the use of low-cost spacecraft and frequent launches under the motto "cheaper, faster and better" promoted by the then administrator, Daniel Goldin. The mission was directed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology, responsible for NASA's Mars Exploration Program.

This mission, besides being the first of a series of missions to Mars that included rovers (robotic exploration vehicles), was the most important since the Vikings landed on the red planet in 1976, and also was the first successful mission to send a rover to a planet. In addition to scientific objectives, the Mars Pathfinder mission was also a "proof-of-concept" for various technologies, such as airbag-mediated touchdown and automated obstacle avoidance, both later exploited by the Mars Exploration Rovers. The Mars Pathfinder was also remarkable for its extremely low price relative to other unmanned space missions to Mars.

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