Skip Navigation: Avoid going through Home page links and jump straight to content
PASADENA, CALIF. 91109. TELEPHONE (818) 354-5011

Mars Pathfinder Mission Status
August 18, 1997
4 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time

      Daily communications with the Mars Pathfinder lander and rover have resumed after an interruption on Saturday, Aug. 16, that was caused by an automatic reset of the lander's flight computer. The cause of the reset is not known, said Mars Pathfinder Flight Director Rob Manning.

      The flight team was able to reactivate the lander by sending it instructions to reinitialize high-gain pointing and then begin its scheduled downlink session on Sunday evening. The downlink session began right on time at 10:09 p.m. PDT Aug. 17.

      New images indicated that the rover had stopped its traverse to a rock nicknamed Shark after partially climbing up a rock called Wedge. The rover's hazard avoidance software is designed to stop the vehicle when it begins to tilt too much. Wedge is one of many small rocks forming a gateway to the Rock Garden, which is Sojourner's next destination. This portion of the landing site is more challenging than other regions because it is much rockier than any terrain explored to date by the rover.

      The flight team will instruct Sojourner to continue its trek to Shark tonight. Shark is of interest to scientists because it is a large, smooth rock, which is relatively dust-free and, therefore, an ideal candidate for the next spectrometer analysis. Shark is part of a cluster of large rocks standing straight up from the ground, but leaning slight to the left. Scientists have theorized that these large, angular rocks may have been tilted by a huge flood which swept through Ares Vallis early in Mars' history.

      Twenty-six megabits of data were received last night, on Sol 44 of the Pathfinder mission. The data included rover health status data, meteorological data and three additional sections of the "super" panorama.