Mars Pathfinder

Katie Jenkins

When and Where

The Mars Pathfinder mission began on December 4, 1996 at 1:58 A.M. eastern time when the Sojourner Rover, its lander, and the rocket that carried them to Mars launched. The launching took place at Cape Canaveral, Florida, where most of NASA's projects begin.

The Landing

The landing of the Sojourner Rover and its lander, formally named Carl Sagan Memorial Station, on Mars occurred on July 4, 1997 at 1:07 P.M. The landing site, an ancient flood plain in Mars' northern hemisphere is among the rockiest parts of Mars. It was chosen because scientists believed it to be a relatively safe to land on and one which contained a wide variety of rocks deposited during a catastrophic flood.


Findings from the investigations carried out by scientific instruments on both the lander and the rover suggest that Mars was at one time warm and wet, with water existing in its liquid state. The lander returned about 16,500 pictures and the rover returned about 550 pictures.

The End of the Mission

NASA's Mars Pathfinder mission completed its last successful data transmission cycle at 6:23 A.M. on September 27, 1997.

Fun Facts

  • The Sojourner Rover was named after American civil rights crusader Sojourner Truth.
  • The Sojourner Rover outlived its design life by twelve times.
  • The Mars Pathfinder mission featured NASA's first rover to explore Mars.
  • NASA's Glenn Research Center was a key participant in this mission.
  • The Sojourner Rover weighed 23 pounds.
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