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Christopher & Galileo JPL Photo Gallery!

Missions to Mars

Mission to Mars Quick Facts


    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 airbags.


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, of course!)


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.

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First Flyby: Mariner 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)!

First Orbiter: Mariner 9 went into orbit around Mars on November 30, 1971, making it the first artificial satellite of Mars!

First Lander: Viking 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!)

First 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).

First Human??? Maybe You!

Current Missions: The Mars Global Surveyor is orbiting Mars, and the 2001 Mars Odyssey reached Mars on October 24, 2001, 0230 Universal Time (October 23, 7:30 p.m. PDT).

Future 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.

All Missions: Mars Missions and Historical Log

Missions Home Page: Mars Exploration Home Page

JPL's Mars Photo Gallery: Mars Gallery

JPL's Mars for Kids: Just for Kids!

More Fun Stuff: Send Your Name aboard the 2003 Mars Exploration Rovers

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Happy Learning!

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