Missions

Mars Pathfinder
Mission Results:

Mars Pathfinder set ambitious objectives and surpassed them. During its eighty-three-day mission, the lander, formally named the Carl Sagan Memorial Station following its successful touchdown, captured over 16,500 images and 8.5 million measurements of atmospheric pressure, temperature, and wind speed. The rover covered hundreds of square meters, returned 550 photographs, and performed chemical analyses at sixteen different locations near the lander.

Findings from the investigations carried out by scientific instruments on both the lander and the rover suggest that early Mars was warm and wet and may have been more Earth-like than it is today with liquid water and a thicker atmosphere.

Data from the rover suggested that rocks at the landing site resembled terrestrial volcanic types with high silicon content, specifically a rock type known as andesite. SSE

The engineering design far exceeded expectations. The mission functioned on the Martian surface for about three months, well beyond the planned lifetimes of 30 days for the lander and seven days for the rover.

More detailed mission results can be found in the December 5, 1997 issue of Science and in abstracts presented at the 29th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in March 1998. For further information, visit the National Space Science Data Center, NASA's permanent archive for space science mission data.