Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.
2001 September 18
Explanation: Just after landing on Mars in 1997, the robotic Mars Pathfinder main station took a quick first look around. This insurance panorama was taken even before the Sagan Memorial Station camera was raised to its two-metre-high perch. The full view is best seen by slowly scrolling to the right. The unique perspective captures many Mars Pathfinder instruments in the close foreground including a screen for judging sky illumination, communications antennae, solar panels, and two ramps leading down to the surface for the robot probe Sojourner. After taking the ramp on the right, Sojourner can be seen on the Martian surface. Visible on the surface are numerous rocks and hills that came to be better studied. The Mars Pathfinder mission went on to return 16,000 images and data that resulted in many discoveries, including evidence for warmer and wetter conditions on Mars in the past. After nearly three spectacular months exploring the surface, Mars Pathfinder dropped out of communication, likely the result of depleted battery power.
Authors & editors:
Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
A service of: LHEA at NASA/ GSFC
& Michigan Tech. U.