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July 2, 2012 - Making Tracks on Mars

Making Tracks on Mars In 1976, when two Viking spacecraft landed safely on Mars, few could have predicted that it would be nearly two decades before another spacecraft followed them successfully to the surface of the Red Planet. Fifteen years ago this week, Mars Pathfinder bounced onto the chilly surface of Mars, protected by inflatable landing bags. Pathfinder soon righted itself, unfolded its three solar panel petals, and deployed the remote-controlled Sojourner rover—the first wheeled vehicle to travel on Mars. The eleven kilogram (twenty-five pound) Sojourner operated for eighty-four days—twelve times its planned life—and traveled over 100 meters (300 feet). This view of the lander, renamed the Carl Sagan Memorial Station, was taken by Sojourner after it descended the ramp onto the surface.

Image credit: NASA / JPL / Caltech

Weekly Calendar

July 2-8, 2012

Holidays - Sky Events - Space History

Moon phase Monday 2

1985: European Space Agency launches Giotto probe to study Halley’s Comet

Moon phase Tuesday 3

Pluto 1° north of Moon
Full Moon 2:52 PM ET

1935: Harrison Schmitt born

Moon phase Wednesday 4

Independence Day

Earth at aphelion

1054: Crab Nebula supernova observed
1997: Mars Pathfinder lands on Mars
2005: Deep Impact probe collides with comet Tempel 1
2006
: STS-121 Discovery launched

Moon phase Thursday 5

1966: Apollo-Saturn 203 launched
1982: Space Shuttle Challenger arrives at Kennedy Space Center for first time

Moon phase Friday 6

1687: Isaac Newton publishes his Principia

Moon phase Saturday 7

Neptune 6° south of Moon

1995: Final test flight of DC-X rocket
1998: First satellite launch from a submarine
2003: Mars rover Opportunity launched

Moon phase Sunday 8

1994: STS-65 Columbia launched
2009: First flight test of Max Launch Abort System
2011: STS-135 Atlantis launched, final shuttle mission

Suggestions for new history dates or better links? Corrections for errors on this page? Please e-mail me.