This image of the Martian surface was taken by the Imager for Mars Pathfinder (IMP) before sunset on July 4 (Sol 1), the spacecraft's first day on Mars. The airbags have been partially retracted, and portions the petal holding the undeployed rover Sojourner can be seen at lower left. The rock in the center of the image may be a future target for chemical analysis. The soil in the foreground has been disturbed by the movement of the airbags as they retracted.
Mars Pathfinder is the second in NASA's Discovery program of low-cost spacecraft with highly focused science goals. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA, developed and manages the Mars Pathfinder mission for NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington, D.C.
Photojournal note: Sojourner spent 83 days of a planned seven-day mission exploring the Martian terrain, acquiring images, and taking chemical, atmospheric and other measurements. The final data transmission received from Pathfinder was at 10:23 UTC on September 27, 1997. Although mission managers tried to restore full communications during the following five months, the successful mission was terminated on March 10, 1998.