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Post by Chicago Astronomer Joe on Jan 11, 2007 19:38:46 GMT -6
New NASA Orbiter Sees Details of 1997 Mars Pathfinder Site
The high-resolution camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has imaged the 1997 landing site of NASA's Mars Pathfinder, revealing new details of hardware on the surface and the geology of the region.
The Pathfinder mission's small rover, Sojourner, appears to have moved closer to the stationary lander after the final data transmission from the lander, based on tentative identification of the rover in the image. Pathfinder landed on July 4, 1997, and transmitted data for 12 weeks. Unlike the two larger rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, currently active on Mars, Sojourner could communicate only with the lander, not directly with Earth.
The lander's ramps, science deck and portions of the airbags can be discerned in the new image. The parachute and backshell used in the spacecraft's descent lie to the south, behind a hill from the viewpoint of the lander. Four bright features may be portions of the heat shield.