The Sojourner rover and undeployed ramps onboard the Mars Pathfinder spacecraft can be seen in this image, by the Imager for Mars Pathfinder (IMP) on July 4 (Sol 1). This image has been corrected for the curvature created by parallax. The microrover Sojourner is latched to the petal, and has not yet been deployed. The ramps are a pair of deployable metal reels which will provide a track for the rover as it slowly rolls off the lander, over the spacecraft's deflated airbags, and onto the surface of Mars. Pathfinder scientists will use this image to determine whether it is safe to deploy the ramps. One or both of the ramps will be unfurled, and then scientists will decide whether the rover will use either the forward or backward ramp for its descent.
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. JPL is an operating division of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). The Imager for Mars Pathfinder (IMP) was developed by the University of Arizona Lunar and Planetary Laboratory under contract to JPL. Peter Smith is the Principal Investigator.
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.