PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICE
JET PROPULSION LABORATORY
CALIFORNIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION
PASADENA, CALIF 91109 TELEPHONE (818) 354-5011
Contact: John G. Watson
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 16, 1997
Three-dimensional, computer-rendered images of Mars and its
surfaces are featured in a free screensaver now available on the
Internet. Scientists used these very images to decide where they
will land the Sojourner microrover this summer.
This imaginative screensaver also features an animated version of
Sojourner, launched last December on the Mars Pathfinder
spacecraft, as it climbs over or navigates around Martian
The rover animation sequence depicts the 60-centimeter (23-inch)-
long microrover that will drive out onto the surface of Mars to
explore the composition of rocks and soil after landing in the
mouth of Ares Valles, an outflow channel, early this July.
Sojourner, which is able to scale rocks up to its own size and to
steer around larger ones, features miniaturized electronics and
such innovative technologies as a six-wheeled "rocker-bogie"
suspension system. It will be the first rover ever to land on
The screensaver was designed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory
(JPL) as part of an effort to educate the public about the Mars
Pathfinder mission and the Mars Global Surveyor orbiter. Both
missions, rocketing into space last fall, heralded the debut of a
decade-long NASA program of robotic exploration of Mars.
In addition to the rover sequences, the screensaver features a
second module devoted to the Mars Global Surveyor orbiter,
launched last November. Surveyor, which reaches Mars this
September, will orbit for one full Martian year, or 687 days,
taking new images while measuring the red planet's atmosphere and
surface. Circling Mars every two hours, it is designed to provide
global maps of surface topography, distribution of minerals, and
monitoring of global weather.
Depicting the very regions of Mars that will be photographed by
Surveyor, the screensaver zeroes in on the planet, depicting
increasing detail of such prominent features as Olympus Mons, a
towering volcano, and Valles Marineris, a huge canyon. The
closing sequence shows a Viking photograph of Pathfinder's
targeted landing site, Ares Valles, an ancient flood plain.
The screensaver, titled Mars Exploration Program: A New Trail to
the Red Planet, is available on the Internet in versions tailored
for those with Windows '95 or Macintosh software. It can be
downloaded from the JPL Mars home page at: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/mars
To complete the download, users will need Version 4.0 of the
"After Dark" screensaver software produced by Berkeley Systems,
Inc. "After Dark" can be downloaded from: http://www.berksys.com/
The images seen in both of the screensavers' modules were created
at JPL on its CRAY T3D parallel processor, part of JPL's
Supercomputing Project. The screensaver, a joint effort of JPL
and Berkeley Systems, was developed by the Mars exploration
program and JPL's Supercomputing Project, with support from
NASA's Office of Space Science.