Eventually, NSSDC will be the deep archive for all data and images returned from the Mars Pathfinder mission. In the meantime, NSSDC has been keeping busy making up-to-date information, science results, and images from the mission available on the World Wide Web.
First available image of the Pathfinder Lander taken from the Sojourner Rover, who'se tire tracks appear going back toward the Lander.
Information on the Mars Pathfinder mission and experiments has been available at NSSDC's Web site since 1993 (back in the days when the mission was called the Mars Environmental Survey [MESUR] Pathfinder), but widespread interest in the mission really began when Pathfinder landed on Mars on July 4, 1997. That night the first images returned, and information about the condition of the lander was posted on NSSDC's Web pages. At 1:40 a.m. EDT on July 6, 1997, news that the rover "Sojourner" had driven onto the Martian soil was also posted. (Martian daytime, the operational period of the mission, was initially in the early morning on the East Coast. The number of deer out on the grounds of Goddard at 3:00 a.m. is truly startling.) During the following weeks interest in the mission and the amazing pictures returned from the surface of Mars resulted in millions of hits on the NSSDC server. The total for the month of July 1997 was over 11 million accesses. The interest also generated many questions about the mission. Over 1,000 E-mail messages were received in July 1997 with queries, comments, or simple thank you's. Almost 700 responses were sent out during the month, and hundreds more were received and answered in August 1997.
The mission itself has been a resounding success, and NSSDC is happy to have played a role in making some of the information and images available to people who visited NSSDC's site and wrote to staff from virtually every country in the world. The NSSDC Mars Pathfinder page is at http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/planetary/mesur.html.
Sojourner Rover is backed up to the rock named Yogi to take its Alpha Proton X-Ray Spectrometer measurement (APXS).
Erin D. Gardner, firstname.lastname@example.org, (301) 286-0163
Hughes STX, Code 633, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Greenbelt, MD 20771, U.S.A.