Pathfinder bounces onto Mars

PathfinderUsing a never-before-attempted system of landing, the Mars Pathfinder unmanned probe employs an aerobraking maneuver to slow down in the planet’s atmosphere, and an all-encompassing layer of airbags to “bounce” onto the surface without using rockets to slow the vehicle down. The weighted landing station rolls to the correct orientation, deflates the airbags, and deploys on schedule, proving the merits of a landing technique that will deliver future Mars landers already in the planning stages.