December 4, 1996 – first successful Mars Rover – Sojourner – was launched
The first successful Mars Rover, called Sojourner/Pathfinder, was launched on this day, December 4, 1996. It landed successfully on Mars on July 4, 1997. Hundreds of thousands of people watched its Mars landing as it was broadcast live on the Internet.
See the Wikipedia article on the Mars Rover
Learn about the Mars Exploration Program on NASA’s site
National Air and Space Museum
“In mid-2003, NASA launched twin “robot geologists” to search for clues about the history of water on Mars. These surface rovers landed in January 2004, and have continued to operate long past their original 90-day mission plan. Each rover carries several science instruments designed to study a wide range of rocks and soils.”
Text and image credit: NASM
Image source: NASA, Mars Pathfinder Landing, Press Kit, July 1997, p.31.