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Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasedena, CA

Mars Pathfinder Lands on July 4th
News story originally written on June 30, 1997

The Mars Pathfinder was launched in December 1996 on a Delta II rocket. The spacecraft is on its way to Mars right now. It will enter the atmosphere and a heat shield, parachutes, and airbags will help it land. Landing on the surface of Mars is scheduled for July 4th, 1997.

After impact the lander will put out three solar panels for power. A camera will map its surroundings, and the Sojourner rover will search the surface of Mars.

Long ago, water flowed on the plains of Mars. The rocky plain that Mars Pathfinder is landing on is thought to be a previous flood plain. Its name is Ares Vallis. The Sojourner rover will test rock and soil samples in this area.

Mars Pathfinder will finish its surface mission in August 1997.

The Mars Pathfinder is a NASA Discovery Mission. The Pathfinder program was developed in three years and costs under $280 million dollars. It is actually the first of NASA's Discovery Program low-cost series of planetary missions. The motto of the program has become "faster, better, and cheaper"!

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