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Mars Sojourner Rover 
Full Scale w/ radio control

The Rover (which is basically a robot that can drive around the planetary surface), was a vital part of the Pathfinder mission. Christened Sojourner, the little rover carried a variety of equipment to help analyze the Martian surface, including the APXS system. Its mission included analyzing rocks in a 10 meter circle around Pathfinder. The Rover's wheels were designed with steel treads and cleats to help it clear the rocky terrain. Its speed was not very impressive (only .6 meters per minute). To prevent the little rover from tipping over, it was equipped with motion sensors on its frame that analyzed tilt. The rover took many images of the surface, and the rocks that it had analyzed, sending them back to Earth along with scientific data. 

A previous try at the rover idea was made by the Russians in 1970. Called the Lunakhod 1, it was landed on the moon and took more than 20,000 images. 

The Sojourner rover was the first to actually be operated on another planet. The Rover's operations included taking images each sol to determine the operations for the next sol, to take and analyze soil samples, imaging the pathfinder lander to help with engineering assessment, and conducting a series of experiments to validate the rover idea. It's every move was tracked during its time on Mars, including images of every trench its wheels created, thermal monitoring, logging of vehicle performance data, and records of sensor performance. The mission was a guideline for future rover based missions and helped us better understand the Red Planet itself. risk to human explorers. 


Launch: December 4, 1996
Landing: July 4, 1997
End of Primary Mission: August 3, 1997
Communications Lost: September 27, 1997
End of Mission: March 10, 1998 

Cruise Phase

Launch Mass: 890 kg
Entry Mass: 570 kg
Height: 1.06 meters (3.5 feet)
Width: 3.6 meters (12 feet) 


Mass: 360 kg
Height: 0.4 meters
Height + IMP: 0.7 meters
Width: 1.6 meters 

Payload: Imager for Mars Pathfinder (IMP) Atmospheric Structure Instrument/ Meteorology package (ASI/MET) 

Sojourner Rover

Mass: 16 kg
Height: 280 mm (10.9 in)
Length: 630 mm (24.5 in)
Width: 480 mm (18.7 in)
Ground Clearance: 130 mm (5 in) 

Payload: Alpha Proton X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS) Hazard range detection system Stereo B&W Cameras on front Six-wheel drive, four-wheel steerable Rocker-bogie mobility chassis

All text, photographs, images, animations, or other media
© 1999/2009 by Brian Bero unless otherwise protected by previous copyright.  All Rights Reserved.