TES NEWS, Volume 5, Number 3, September 1996

Mars Pathfinder Also Arrives At Cape Canaveral, Florida-- Launch In December

by Ken Edgett, ASU

Mars Pathfinder is the lander slated to reach Mars on July 4, 1997. This mission includes the microrover, Sojourner. Like Mars Global Surveyor, Mars Pathfinder recently arrived at Cape Canaveral in Florida. It will blast off onboard a Delta II rocket in December-- the earliest possible launch time is December 2, 1996, at 2:09 a.m. Eastern Standard Time. It will be a night launch!

According the the Jet Propulsion Laboratory of Pasadena, California (which built the spacecraft), Mars Pathfinder arrived safely in Florida at about 3:00 p.m. on August 13th. Three main parts of the spacecraft traveled across the United States inside a special van-- the Cruise Stage, Aeroshell, and the Lander. The fourth part of Mars Pathfinder, the Sojourner rover, was scheduled to arrive by airplane on August 23rd.

Mars Pathfinder is inside a building called the Spacecraft Assembly and Encapsulation Facility (SAEF), across the street from where Mars Global Surveyor is being prepared for its mission. Soon the rover will be installed, then the lander will be put inside the aeroshell and the cruise stage. The whole package will be placed inside the upper stage and nose cone of the Delta II rocket, and taken out to the launch pad around November 21, 1996.

Mars Pathfinder has several Arizona connections. Its camera, known as IMP ("Imager for Mars Pathfinder"), was put together by a team at the University of Arizona in Tucson, headed by Peter Smith. Another experiment, "Wind Socks," will measure the speed and direction of the martian winds. The Wind Socks were manufactured on the Arizona State University campus under the direction of Dr. Ronald Greeley and Dr. Robert Sullivan.

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