Collection Item Summary:
These are the Atmospheric Structure Instrument and Meteorology Package (ASI/MET) and the Imager from the Mars Pathfinder model in the Museum's collection. At the top of the ASI/MET is a wind sensor, and three wind socks are mounted on the mast. The Imager included a stereoscopic camera system, hence the two openings.
Mars Pathfinder was the first spacecraft to land on the surface of the red planet since the Viking mission in 1976. These parts belong to a 3/4-scale model of the spacecraft that was launched on December 4, 1996. On reaching Mars on July 4, 1997, the spacecraft entered the planet's thin atmosphere, was slowed by a parachute and then rockets, and then landed by bouncing on inflated airbags. Once on the surface, the protective aeroshell unfolded to provide three flat platforms and ramps, one of which held a rover (Sojourner). Sojourner traveled down one of the ramps and proceeded to take close up images of the surface using two color cameras on the front and a black and white camera on the rear. The rover also featured a rear-mounted spectrometer that provided bulk elemental composition data on surface soils and rocks.
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory manufactured this model and transferred it to the Museum in 2002.