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Mars Pathfinder

Dec 04, 1996

In 1996, the Mars Pathfinder was launched on a Delta II rocket. Pathfinder carried a robot rover named Sojourner, after U.S. civil rights crusader Sojourner Truth. They reached the thin Martian atmosphere on July 4, 1997, then descended assisted by a parachute and landed using giant airbags to cushion the impact. After touchdown, the instrumented lander was named the Carl Sagan Memorial Station. It outlived its design life by nearly three times, while the free-ranging rover went 12 times its expected life, returning an unprecedented amount of data and images. The rover accomplished more than 15 chemical analyses of the rocks and soil. It also measured wind and surface conditions.