HiRISE Images Mars Pathfinder Site
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HiRISE Images Mars Pathfinder Site

February 7, 2007
Pathfinder landed on Mars on July 4, 1997 and continued operating until September 27 of that year. The landing site is on an ancient flood plain of the Ares and Tiu outflow channels. The image provides unprecedented detail of the geology of the region and hardware on the surface. This release consists of six parts.

This image shows the Pathfinder lander on the surface. Zooming in, one can discern the ramps, science deck, and portions of the airbags on the Pathfinder lander (see next image, right side for greater detail). The backshell and parachute are to the south and four features that may be portions of the heat shield are identified. Two of these were visible from Pathfinder. At the time of that mission, the nearest object was provisionally identified as the back shell. However, analysis of the HiRISE image and reinterpretation of the Pathfinder images, plus an improved understanding of how hardware looks on the Martian surface based on the MER images and HiRISE images of those landing sites, indicates that the glint is bright enough that it may be the insulating material from the inside of the heat shield. The backshell and parachute were out of sight behind a ridge from Pathfinders's ground view. One of the three bright features, identified as heathshield debris, was also identified during the Pathfinder mission.

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