Missions

Mars Pathfinder
Mission Details:

Launched on December 4, 1996, Pathfinder arrived at Mars on July 4, 1997. Slowed in its descent through the thin Martian atmosphere by aerobraking, retrorockets, and a parachute, it was in free-fall the last few hundred feet and bounced over the Martian surface on its inflated airbags like a giant beach ball. Once it rolled to a stop, the airbags deflated, the petals of the lander opened, and the rover descended to begin exploring and analyzing nearby rocks.