NASA honored the legacy of Dr. Carl Sagan today when Administrator Daniel S. Goldin named the Mars Pathfinder lander the Carl Sagan Memorial Station.
"Carl Sagan was a very unique individual who helped young and old alike to dream about the future and the possiblities it may hold," Goldin said. "Carl always liked to push the boundaries too, and the Mars Pathfinder mission, with its rover named Sojourner, clearly has done that. Even its very first images contain an array of fascinating scientific questions that he would have loved to debate. We will explore the area with his memory in mind."
Goldin made the announcement at Planetfest '97 in Pasadena, CA, an event organized by the Planetary Society, the public space interest group that Sagan founded with Bruce Murrary and Lou Friedman in 1980.
Sagan played a leading role in NASA's Mariner, Viking, Voyager and Galileo expeditions to other planets. He has received NASA Medals for Exceptional Scientific Achievement and twice for Distinguished Public Service, and the NASA Apollo Achievement Award. Sagan died on December 20, 1996, at age 62.
The naming is reminiscent of the memorial dedication of the Mars Viking Lander 1 in January 1981 to Dr. Thomas Mutch, a NASA associate administrator for space science and former leader of the Viking Lander Imaging Science Team, who died on October 7, 1980, while climbing in the Himalayas.