Thursday, December 4, 2008

Mars Pathfinder begins its journey

On December 4, 1996, Mars Pathfinder was launched toward the Red Planet. This mission included the first roving vehicle to be sent to another world since Lunokhod 2 in 1973. It was also the first probe to use airbag technology for landing on another world. It was also the first landing on Mars since the Vikings in 1976.

Pathfinder made a brilliant, prime-time landing on July 4, 1977. Our imaginations were captured by the rover "Sojourner" when she rolled off of the lander and began exploring the immediate vicinity. Even the most die-hard engineers found themselves anthropomorphizing this plucky little adventurer as she bumped into rocks and drove around. We all died a little inside when Pathfinder stopped calling home in September, after its batteries died. Many people imagined poor little Sojourner circling around her "mother," waiting for her to wake up and talk to her again.

This Hot Wheels Action Pack featured the Pathfinder lander, the Sojourner rover, and the package inside its aeroshell, all in vastly different scales!

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