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landing site

Pathfinder's Landing Site

On July 4, 1997 the Mars Pathfinder landed in the rocky flood plain of Ares Vallis. The abundance of rocks has supplied ample specimens for investigation. Ares Vallis is located at 19.5 degrees north latitude and 32.8 degrees west longitude. Using old Viking images, Deep Space Network radar studies and Hubble Space Telescope images helped to make landing on the surface of Mars a success.

The site had to fall within the following contraints:

  • below the mean planet surface in order to produce a low parachute terminal velocity

  • within 5 degrees of the subsolar latitude, 15 degrees N. at landing time, for best solar-cell operation

  • flat surface

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