March 1997 Volume 6 Number 1

Back to...

To Infinity and Beyond:

The Mars Pathfinder Launch

by Jenny Morris, Katie Myers, Lindsey Johnson, and Maggie Ryan; Ms. O'Rourke's Fifth Grade, Cedar Wood Elementary, Bothell, WA

December 2nd was the official launch date of the Delta II rocket. It was delayed (scrubbed) due to a storm passing through the area. It was going to hit Florida the same time as the rocket was to be launched.

December 3rd, the launch was scrubbed again for difficulties on the ground computers. On the 4th, it launched! This is our point of view of what happened on launch night:

It was pitch black and the only light at Jetty Park (where we viewed the launch) was the rusty orange Moon, the shooting stars, and the blue and white glowing rocket on the launchpad. Along with us, our teacher, Fran O'Rourke, and our parents, were Brian Cooper (the rover driver), Dr. Edgett (provides education for teachers), Dr. Joy Crisp (geologist), Dr. Dave Crisp (works with weather), and other scientists and engineers from NASA's JPL who were excitingly waiting for the launch.

CLICK FOR FIGURE:The Mars Pathfinder launch as seen from Jetty Park, Florida. Diagram by Maggie Ryan and Katie Myers, Cedar Wood Elementary, Washington.

Suddenly, a blinding light and a booming sound filled Jetty Park, while cheers filled the air as the Delta II curved and sailed towards the Moon! Half-way to the Moon, the rocket boosters were released and looked like sparkling stars as they fell from the Delta rocket.

The rocket continued on and looked like it was going right over the middle of the Moon as it tore through the atmosphere. All you could see was a bright dot fade into the darkness. The sight was too amazing to describe.

When it was all said and done, we all agreed it was an experience we will never forget.

CLICK FOR FIGURE: Various photos of the Mars Pathfinder launch, courtesy of the Mars Pathfinder Project. (note, this is a link to one of the Pathfinder mirror sites, and might not always be working).

TES News is published quarterly by the Arizona Mars K-12 Education Program. This newsletter may be copied for EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY.

EDITED BY Kenneth S. Edgett, Arizona Mars K-12 Education Program, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona, USA.