Independence Day 1997
On Independence Day 1997, a quarter of a century ago, the Mars Pathfinder Spacecraft safely landed the Carl Sagan Memorial Base Station on Mars at 2:56:55 local solar time. The next day it deployed the Sojourner Robot, which became the first rover to explore a planetary surface beyond Earth Orbit. Just as compelling as the mission engineering and science, this pioneering system was conceived and developed in one third the time, 3 years, and at a tenth of the cost, $300 M, of a prior NASA Mars lander two decades earlier.
The brilliant team of NASA Jet Proulsion Laboratory (JPL) scientists and engineers was led by Tony Spear, a truly inspirational and highly capable leader, who was a a leading agent of change. Many of the exceptional Mars Pathfinder contributors have since gone on to enable NASA and JPL to inspire America with brilliant feats of science and engineering that contributes to our continued freedoms and pioneering capacities.
Happy Birthday America, may we continue to blaze new trails in space, science, and engineering in building a better and richer life for our children!