News Archive

SDSC Presents Mars Pathfinder Web Page for NASA

Published 07/03/1997

For more information, contact:
Ann Redelfs
San Diego Supercomputer Center
(619) 534-5032 (voice)
(619) 534-5077 (FAX)

San Diego, CA -- When NASA's Mars Pathfinder spacecraft lands on the Red Planet on July 4, 1997, the San Diego Supercomputer Center will relay the latest images and news from the space probe to the general public via the Internet.

Sometime during the afternoon of Independence Day, the Pathfinder lander will transmit the first new images from the surface of Mars in more than 20 years. A few hours later Sojourner, a micro-rover the size of a toy wagon, will separate from the lander, wander the Martian terrain for a week or more, and return a wealth of new science data.

With the Mars Pathfinder mission, NASA has begun an unprecedented effort to include the public in the landing of a robot explorer on another world. As with previous space missions, live cameras at Caltech's Jet Propulsion Laboratory will show researchers at work interpreting the data from the space probe. Coverage of the landing will be carried on many PBS television stations and broadcast on NASA Select TV, available to people with satellite dish antennas or cable TV.

But for the first time, the Internet makes possible another kind of coverage: images from the Pathfinder lander and Sojourner rover will be carried "live" (with a bit of digital format conversion) on the Web. As the latest images of the Martian surface come in, they will be available to anyone around the world with access to the Internet. NASA expects to receive 25 million Web hits a day, enough to clog the JPL computer that maintains the Pathfinder Web site.

SDSC is serving as a mirror site for the Mars Pathfinder Web page. When new data comes in, NASA will relay it to SDSC and to other high-capacity Web servers across the country and around the world, ensuring the public's unimpeded access to the latest news from the Red Planet. NASA has established other mirror sites at various geographic locations, listed at

SDSC's Mars Pathfinder site is now on line at It already carries the latest views of Mars from the Hubble Space Telescope, updates on the status of the spacecraft, images of the Martian surface from the Viking orbiters and landers, information on the mission, interviews with project scientists, and even 3-D and Virtual Reality tours of the landing site. Anyone with a Web browser such as Netscape Navigator or Internet Explorer can watch the mission as it unfolds.

A special Pathfinder education and outreach page, of interest to K-12 teachers, students, and parents, also is accessible through SDSC's Web site at

Although the SDSC Web site is expected to serve mainly computer users in the southwestern United States, it is accessible around the world. NASA has established other mirror sites at various geographic locations listed at JPL's Web,

The Mars Global Surveyor probe will arrive at the Red Planet in August. That spacecraft will provide detailed mapping and weather information from orbit, and will not land on Mars. The Mars Mirror Site program also will carry Mars Global Surveyor information as it becomes available.

The San Diego Supercomputer Center, a national laboratory for computational science and engineering, is affiliated with the University of California at San Diego, administered by General Atomics, and sponsored by the National Science Foundation, other federal agencies, the State and University of California, and private organizations. For additional information, refer to SDSC's World Wide Web server at, or contact Ann Redelfs, SDSC, (619) 534-5032,