Airbags, Lander, Mars, Pathfinder

This is a prototype of the airbag for the Mars Pathfinder lander. Mars Pathfinder was the first mission intended to gather scientific data on the surface of the red planet since the Viking mission in 1976. An unusual, innovative method was used to achieve a soft landing of the spacecraft. On reaching Mars on July 4, 1997, Pathfinder entered the planet's thin atmosphere, was slowed by a parachute and then rockets, and then landed by bouncing on inflated airbags. The artifact consists of an engineering prototype for those airbags. The mission airbags as well as the prototypes were designed and built by JPL for NASA's office of Space Science. The artifact was transferred to NASM by NASA in 1999.