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First spacecraft to land on Mars since the Viking 1976 missions. Launched in 1996 by NASA, Pathfinder descended to the Martian surface in July 1997 using parachutes, rockets, and air bags. It then deployed instruments, including Sojourner, a small, six-wheeled robotic rover, which explored as far as 1,600 ft (500 m) from the lander and sent pictures back for over a month. The mission's main objective was to show that low-cost Mars landings and exploration are feasible.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Mars Pathfinder, visit Britannica.com.
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