Mars Essay, Research Paper
LANDING ON THE RED PLANET
Who would have ever dreamed about a spacecraft, sponsored by The United States, landing on the surface of Mars for a second time? That dream became a reality on July 4, 1997. This date marked a famous leap for NASA. The Pathfinder sent back astonishing facts and countless pictures and analyses. In short, the Mars Pathfinder Mission was a surprisingly successful mission bringing a great recognition to The United States from around the world.
At first, many people doubted that the Pathfinder mission would become a success. Most believed that the Pathfinder would never even land on the surface of the red planet . Little did they know, that sixth months from its initial takeoff on December 04, 1996, it would land very precisely where it had been projected and planned to do so. Using solar panels as its power, it impacted the surface of mars, without going into the orbit around the planet, at a velocity of 40 mph and bounced fifty feet into the air, bouncing another fifteen times and rolling before coming to a complete rest. The landing site is the Ares Vallis region is at 19.33 N, 33.55 W and it was named the Sagan Memorial Station. Engineering constraints were identified; surface environments and safety considerations played a major part in the selection of this site. The Pathfinder brought back substantial information within a time frame of one month of being on the surface of Mars.
On the surface of Mars for a month, the mission returned about 1.2 gigabits of data which included 9669 Lander, 384 Rover images and about 4 million temperature, pressure, and wind measurements, performed ten chemical analyses of rocks and soil and explored over 100 square meters of the Martian surface. Several conclusions were made during the Pathfinder s mission that the Viking 1 (a previous mission spacecraft) could not determine. Evidence of wind abrasion of rocks and dune shaped deposits was found, which indicated the presence of sand. Also, the possible identification of rounded pebbles and cobbles on the ground, and sockets and pebbles in some rocks, suggested that there was a warmer past for Mars in which liquid water was stable. Many people and scientists believe that the presence of water on a planet such as Mars, is evidence of past life and even adding more proof to the controversy of aliens. The Pathfinder mission brought promising facts back to the USA that would help aid in future exploration of Mars and its possibilities of human inhabitants.
The Pathfinder mission was very positive. As stated before, it brought back countless pictures and information, but there is still one problem that has not been completely resolved yet. The lander and rover operated until September 27th when all communication was lost for unknown reasons. This was the only major downfall of the mission. After three days of attempting to reestablish contact, they were able to lock on to a carrier signal from the spacecraft s transmitter on October 1st, which meant that the spacecraft was still operational. They concluded that the communication loss was due to the depletion of the battery. Over the past few months the operations team has been working to try to recover the link with the Pathfinder. The team does plan to continue sending signals until they are once again connected with the spacecraft.
Part of NASA s Discovery Program, the spacecraft s entrance into Mars s atmosphere marked yet another leap in technology for the science world. Although the Pathfinder had it s one downfall, it was still one of the most successful missions to Mars conducted. I believe that with more advancements being made in technology and science discovery, we will have a better understanding of the planets outside of Earth. With that we will even be able to have a better knowledge of how to solve the problems on Earth that have not devised had a successful plan to solve them.