Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

July 5, 1997
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download 
 the highest resolution version available.

Pathfinder on Mars
Credit: IMP Team, JPL, NASA

Explanation: Yesterday, July 4th, using its own array of fireworks, a parachute, and a cocoon of airbags, the Mars Pathfinder spacecraft successfully bounced and came to rest on the surface of Mars at 10:07 AM Pacific Daylight Time. And the news is wonderful - the spacecraft appears to be in good health after having performed its complicated landing sequence superbly. Above is a mosaic of images from the martian surface transmitted shortly after Pathfinder reestablished communication with its mission operators on Earth. The solar powered, two foot long, 25 pound Mars Sojourner robot rover is visible crouched on the unfolded spacecraft. Surrounding Pathfinder are deflated airbags and a rock-strewn terrain. In the distance martian hills appear against a dusty brownish sky. The IMP camera which produced this view is also capable of stereo images and promises further spectacular pictures from Mars.

Tomorrow's picture: A Martian Day's End

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
A service of: LHEA at NASA/ GSFC
&: Michigan Tech. U.