The Mars Pathfinder Mission is the second launch in the Discovery Program, a NASA initiative for planetary missions with a maximum three year development cycle and a cost cap of $150M (FY92) for development. This mission is primarily an engineering demonstration of key technologies and concepts for eventual use in future missions to Mars employing scientific landers.
Pathfinder also delivers science instruments to the surface of Mars to investigate the structure of the martian atmosphere, surface meteorology, surface geology, form, and structure and the elemental composition of martian rocks and soil. In addition a free-ranging surface rover is deployed to conduct technology experiments and to serve as an instrument deployment mechanism. Landed July 4, 1997.
Launch Period: December 2-31, 1996
Launch Vehicle: Delta II - 7925