Mars Pathfinder

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Raina Orion
Erika Harnett
ESS 102
April 15, 2016
Robotic Missions: Mars Pathfinder
This research is in preparation to write the fictional article currently titled “Tales of A Space Robot”. This article will be about an extremely advanced AI robot that has spent the past 50 years cataloging and exploring a nearby solar system for life, potential colonization, as well as other scientific research. The research presented below gives an idea of what types of data the robot can collect or potentially collect with future technology and how the mission can work most efficiently (with two data collection machines). The AI robot will be based partially on the Mars Pathfinder mission from 1996 so the research will be concentrated just on that mission.
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The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) wanted the Pathfinder missions to be the beginning of low-cost missions to bring scientific instruments to Mars (Nelson). Pathfinder was initially imagined to be an instrumented lander which would carry and deploy a free-ranging robotic rover (JPL, 2001). The mission was planned to last for only 7 days but the rover stayed on Mars, collecting data, from its landing on July 4, 1997 to September 27, 1997 which ended up being a total of 83 days. The lander itself (Carl Sagan Memorial Station) collected data via the Imager for Mars Pathfinder (IMP) and Atmospheric Structure Instrument/Meteorology Package (ASI/MET) (Nelson). The Sojourner rover was equipped with an Alpha/Proton/X-ray Spectrometer (APXS) and rover imaging cameras (Nelson). The mission was developed in only three years while only spending $265 million (JPL, 2001). According to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Pathfinder captured an unprecedented amount of data on top of the goal data, and lasted much longer than designed …show more content…
The scientists were able to determine that rocks on Mars have more silica than on Earth which suggests differentiated parent material and that there was once running, liquid water that created pebbles (JPL, 2001). The soil data that returned was closely related to samples at both the Viking 1 and 2 sites which is evidence that the soil is globally uniform (JPL, 2001). Radio tracking of both the location of the lander and Mars’ rotational pole suggests that the radius of Mars’ central metallic core is between 1,300-2,000 kilometers (JPL, 2001). Magnetic particles found in the air suggest that Mars once had an active water cycle which removed the iron from the crust and put it in the air (JPL, 2001). Both the weather and atmospheric data collected from the lander and rover were similar to Viking 1 and 2 observations (JPL, 2001). Photos taken by the mission showed evidence of clouds (made of ice) that formed in the morning and evaporated as the atmosphere was heated by the crust, due to small currents of heat convected upwards (JPL,

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