Overview of the Mars Pathfinder Mission and Assessment of Landing Site Predictions

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Science  05 Dec 1997:
Vol. 278, Issue 5344, pp. 1743-1748
DOI: 10.1126/science.278.5344.1743

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Chemical analyses returned by Mars Pathfinder indicate that some rocks may be high in silica, implying differentiated parent materials. Rounded pebbles and cobbles and a possible conglomerate suggest fluvial processes that imply liquid water in equilibrium with the atmosphere and thus a warmer and wetter past. The moment of inertia indicates a central metallic core of 1300 to 2000 kilometers in radius. Composite airborne dust particles appear magnetized by freeze-dried maghemite stain or cement that may have been leached from crustal materials by an active hydrologic cycle. Remote-sensing data at a scale of generally greater than ∼1 kilometer and an Earth analog correctly predicted a rocky plain safe for landing and roving with a variety of rocks deposited by catastrophic floods that are relatively dust-free.

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