NASA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY NASA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Mars Pathfinder arrival at Mars. Second in a series of three artworks showing how the Mars Pathfinder craft will arrive at Mars in July 1997. At upper right the lander craft is being unreeled on a 100-metre tether below the parachute. One second before impact (left) four airbags, each having three lobes, are inflated to help absorb the expected 50g landing force. At the moment of impact, the tether is severed and the parachute drifts clear of the lander. Mars Pathfinder is due for launch in December 1996, and is intended to prove the concept of multi-part, low-cost vehicles for repeated Mars exploration missions.
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