For Release: June 27, 1997
Release No. 97-046
Mars Pathfinder Project Manager To Speak July 15
Pathfinder landing on July 4, 1997 will usher in a new
era of planetary exploration. On Tuesday, July 15, at 2 p.m. at the
NASA Langley H.J.E. Reid Conference Center, the manager of the Mars
Pathfinder project will discuss the development and flight of the
Mars Pathfinder spacecraft.
A media briefing with Anthony Spear, of the Jet Propulsion
Laboratory in Pasedena, Calif. will take place at 1 p.m. in the
Reid Center, 14 Langley Blvd.
According to Anthony Spear, spacecraft that orbit or land on a
distant body typically carry a massive amount of propellant to
decelerate. But Pathfinder spacecraft requires only a modest supply
of fuel to navigate to Mars. With use of a Viking-derived
aeroshell, the spacecraft descends through the Mars atmosphere
directly from its interplanetary flightpath, deploys a parachute
approximately 6.2 miles above the surface, and fires solid rockets
within 109 yards of the surface for final braking prior to the
deployment of airbags that cushion its touchdown. After landing,
petals open to orient the lander upright, followed by deployment of
a small rover, Sojourner, and several science instruments.
Spear has been the manager of the Mars Pathfinder project since
its inception in 1992. In 1991, he led the initial Jet Propulsion
Laboratory studies on NASA's Discovery missions. He has worked on
numerous interplanetary spacecraft including the Mariner Mars 1964,
Mars 1969, Venus Mercury 1973, Viking, and Magellan programs.
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