As part of NASA's Discovery Program, on December 2, 1996, a Delta
II rocket launched Mars Pathfinder on a seven-month journey to the Red
Planet. On July 4, 1997, Pathfinder successfully landed on the surface
of Mars with Sojourner, its six-wheeled rover. This Discovery-class
mission is a demonstration of a faster, better and cheaper way to land
on Mars. What is unique about this particular mission is that the spacecraft
landed on Mars without first entering into orbit about the planet and
that it carried the first rover to explore the Martian surface.
The Mars Pathfinder project is managed for NASA by the Jet Propulsion
Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California.