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JPL and the Space Age: The Pathfinders (NASA Documentary) [Video]

Artist’s concept of the Mars Pathfinder mission, including the Carl Sagan Memorial Science Station and the six-wheeled rover, Sojourner. Credit: NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory-Caltech

It started with JPLThe Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is a federally funded research and development center that was established in 1936. It is owned by NASA and managed by the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). The laboratory's primary function is the construction and operation of planetary robotic spacecraft, though it also conducts Earth-orbit and astronomy missions. It is also responsible for operating NASA's Deep Space Network. JPL implements programs in planetary exploration, Earth science, space-based astronomy and technology development, while applying its capabilities to technical and scientific problems of national significance.” data-gt-translate-attributes=”[{“attribute”:”data-cmtooltip”, “format”:”html”}]”>JPL agreeing to land something on MarsMars is the second smallest planet in our solar system and the fourth planet from the sun. It is a dusty, cold, desert world with a very thin atmosphere. Iron oxide is prevalent in Mars' surface resulting in its reddish color and its nickname "The Red Planet." Mars' name comes from the Roman god of war.” data-gt-translate-attributes=”[{“attribute”:”data-cmtooltip”, “format”:”html”}]”>Mars — cheaply — and do it in a radically different way. This is how the era NASAEstablished in 1958, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is an independent agency of the United States Federal Government that succeeded the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). It is responsible for the civilian space program, as well as aeronautics and aerospace research. Its vision is "To discover and expand knowledge for the benefit of humanity." Its core values are "safety, integrity, teamwork, excellence, and inclusion." NASA conducts research, develops technology and launches missions to explore and study Earth, the solar system, and the universe beyond. It also works to advance the state of knowledge in a wide range of scientific fields, including Earth and space science, planetary science, astrophysics, and heliophysics, and it collaborates with private companies and international partners to achieve its goals.” data-gt-translate-attributes=”[{“attribute”:”data-cmtooltip”, “format”:”html”}]”>NASA called “Faster, Better, Cheaper” began. The documentary film “The Pathfinders” tells the story of a small group of engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory who did not heed warnings that the audacious challenge of landing on Mars with airbags would likely not be a career-enhancing move.

With a parachute that could not be tested in a way to match the Martian atmosphere, to the late addition of an unwanted rover that would not have looked out of place in a toy store, the Mars Pathfinder mission was a doubter’s dream, taken on by a mostly young group of engineers and scientists, who were guided by a grizzled manager known for his maverick ways.

The Pathfinders retraces the journey of this daring mission to Mars that captured the hearts and minds of people around the world with its dramatic landing and its tiny rover — the first wheels ever to roll on Mars.

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The Mars Pathfinder mission was created as an affordable way to transport a group of scientific tools to the Red Planet. This mission was a milestone as it marked the first time a wheeled vehicle had ever been deployed on any planet in our solar system. Furthermore, the successful delivery of Sojourner — a rover — set the foundation for the Mars rovers that we have today.

The Pathfinder mission utilized an air bag landing system and innovative petal design to land Sojourner on the Martian surface. This technique has been implemented in various iterations to deliver other rovers to the planet’s surface. Once on the ground, Sojourner completed an 83-day exploration of Mars, which exceeded the planned seven-day mission duration. During this time, the rover captured photographs and conducted measurements on the planet’s terrain, chemicals, atmosphere, and other important variables

JPL and the Space Age Video Series

Source: SciTechDaily