The Mars Yard was the place to be at
the JPL Open House.
There were displays, demonstrations, mock-up spacecrafts, and rovers
cruising around the simulated Martian surface!
Here is a Mars Lander. This lands on the Martian
surface with the assistance of a parachute and a giant airbag system
to cushion the landing. The yellow-ish material is the deflated
The lander stores the rover during flight and protects it during
landing. Once on the Martian surface, the rover is free to roam
(with the guidance and programming from JPL engineers and scientists,
Here is the Sojourner Rover cruising the simulated Martian rocks.
It's a good thing Sojourner practiced in a rocky terrain because
when it landed on the Red Planet on July 4, 1997, it landed in the
rockiest part of Mars, called Ares Vallis.
Did you know
Sojourner was the first rover to traverse the Martian surface?
Here is a picture of Sojourner with a portion of the 3-D
panaroma view of the Martian Surface in
the background. The bottom part of the 3-D background shows part
of the lander.
Here's an up-close picture of Sojourner. In
this frame, the lander takes up most of the 3-D
panaroma view background.
The Sojourner Rover only traveled up to 10 yards per day.
Did you know
the Sojourner Rover is the size of a child's small wagon?
The Sojourner Rover:
weighs 22 pounds on Earth
is about 1 foot tall
has a 5 inch diameter wheel
carried a tool kit with black and white stereo cameras, 1 color
camera, and an alpha proton x-ray spectrometer
Did you know Sojourner could
only drive up to 10 yards per day? The 2003 Mars Exploration Rover
(see below) will travel up to 110 yards per day, and it will be
able to travel almost as far in one Martian day as the Sojourner
Rover did over its entire lifetime.
Last words on Sojourner: Sojourner
operated on Mars for 84 days!
And on to the FUTURE: In 2003, JPL will send two 2003
Mars Exploration Rovers within two months
of each other to explore different regions of Mars. These rovers
will carry all their instruments with them, unlike the Mars Pathfinder/Sojourner
Rover which had instruments on both the lander and the rover.
TO MARS: QUICK FACTS
4 flew past Mars
on July 14, 1965, returning the first up-close pictures of Mars
(and the first up-close pictures of any planet)!
went into orbit around Mars on November 30, 1971, making it the
first artificial satellite of Mars!
1 & 2, two orbiter-lander pairs, went
into orbit around Mars in 1976. The orbiters continued to orbit
Mars while the landers descended to the Martian surface for the
first time. (It was also the first time a spacecraft landed safely
on the surface of any planet!)
Rover: The Mars
Pathfinder landed on Mars on July 4, 1997.
Its rover was named, Sojourner (after
abolitionist and champion of women's rights, Sojourner Truth).
Human??? Maybe You!
Missions: The Mars
Global Surveyor is orbiting Mars, and
Mars Odyssey reached Mars on October 24,
2001, 0230 Universal Time (October
23, 7:30 p.m. PDT).
Missions: Two 2003
Mars Exploration Rovers will be launched
to Mars. Other long-term
Mars exploration programs include the
2005 Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, Smart Lander and Long-range Rover,
Scout Missions, and Sample Returns.
Missions and Historical
Home Page: Mars
Exploration Home Page
Mars Photo Gallery: Mars
Mars for Kids: Just
Fun Stuff: Send
Your Name aboard the 2003 Mars Exploration Rovers