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Mars Pathfinder: Mission Objectives, Major Scientific Instruments (Research Paper Sample)


Research paper on the mars pathfinder in relation to Mission Objectives, Major Scientific Instruments, Timeline of the Mission, Findings from the Pathfinder


Mars Pathfinder
Mars pathfinder landed in Mars in 1997. The American spacecraft consisted of a lander and a lightweight. NASA launched the mission the lander opened and exposed the rover. The rove conducted various experiments on the surface of the mars. The space mission carries scientific instruments that are used in the analysis of the Martian atmosphere, the geology, climate and the composition of its rocks. It involved using a low cost effective space craft dubbed cheaper, faster and better (BradyLong et al., 2014). The purpose of the low cost mission was to reduce the cost of the entire mission. It was a confirmation for various technologies including airbag-mediated touchdown. Others included automated obstacle avoidance.
Mission Objectives
The objectives of the Pathfinder mission included:
* To confirm Pathfinder as a faster, cheaper and better spacecraft. Its development had cost three years,
* To underscore the commitment of NASA to low-cost exploration. The total expenditure was proved cost effective,
* To prove that scientific instruments could be sent to another planet with the simplest technology compared to Viking mission (NASA, 2012)
Major Scientific Instruments
These instruments included stereoscopic camera that consisted of spatial filters and atmospheric structure instrument (ASI). ASI collected data regarding the pressure, temperature and winds. The rover had an Alpha Proton X-ray Spectrometer (APXS). That analyzed rocks and soils. Inside the rover were three cameras (Hobbs et al., 2011). Two of the cameras were black and white while third one was colored camera. The instruments investigated the geology of the Martian surface. They were useful in determining the history of evolution of the rocks and surface. The land was also examined by looking at its mechanical and magnetic properties. On the front of the rover were two black and white cameras that coupled with projectors. These cameras allowed for the caption of stereoscopic images together with the measurements. The colored camera was placed at an angle of rotation of 900. The mission demonstrated that it needed to deliver both a lander and free ranger robotic rover (Hobbs et al., 2011) It landed on the surface of Mars in a cost effective and sufficient manner. While accomplishing this goal, the pathfinder returned plenty of data. Consequently, it lived beyond the original design. The method of entering the Martian atmosphere was rather direct. A parachute was utilized to reduce its descent through the thin atmosphere. The parachutes had proper airbag system that helped to reduce the impact of external forces.
Timeline of the Mission
Pathfinder was scheduled to depart on June 30 at 12.00am (The Pacific Daylight Time). By that time, it was set to cover a mileage of 1.3 million miles to Mars. In the next 24 hours, it was expected to be 982000 miles from the Mars. On the third day, pathfinder was expected to be 696000 miles from the mars. On July 3, at 12.00am, it was expected to be 408 000 miles from Mars. Path finder was set to enter the upper atmosphere of Mars where it was set to begin landing. Only the Doppler shift was the likely signal to convey the frequencies of the waves (NASA, 2012). The entry, descent and landing were programmed to last for 4.5 minutes in a particular sequence. First, the mission decelerates rapidly into the atmosphere by use of heat shield.
The next step was the deployment of the parachute followed by the separation of the heat shield. The lander was then scheduled to descend on the bridle. The next sequence of events was the return of information by the radar. The airbags inflated as the bridle cable was cut. The landing on the Ares Vallis surface occurred. The events of entry, descent and landing took place on July 4, between 11.32am and 12.33pm. Other major events occurred on July 4. On July 5, the flight team processed various images and developed an approximate estimation of the sun’s position. On the same day, the first downlink session was conducted by means of low-gain antenna (NASA, 2012). A set of images of the rover sitting on the surface were down-linked during the final transmit element. The mission ended on July 5.
Findings from the Pathfinder
The lander made a number of revelations abo...
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