Collection Item Summary:
Mars Pathfinder (MPF) was the first spacecraft to land on the surface of Mars since the 1976 Viking mission. The spacecraft was launched on December 4, 1996. MPF entered the martian atmosphere directly on July 4, 1997 traveling at nearly 7,300 m/s. The entry vehicle's heat shield slowed the spacecraft to 400 m/s in about 160 seconds before deployment of the parachute and airbags. MPF then landed by bouncing on inflated airbags. Once safely on the ground, the protective aeroshell unfolded to provide three flat platforms and ramps, one of which held a rover (Sojourner). The MPF landing site was near the mouth of Ares Valles, a large outwash plain from one of the largest outflow channel complexes on Mars at 19.33° N, 33.55° W.
These parts, including the airbags, belong to the 3/8-scale MPF Descent Vehicle model, transferred to the Museum in 2002.