PathfinderNASA/JPL’s low-cost Mars Pathfinder mission lifts off for a date with Mars. The first American Mars lander since the Viking missions of the 1970s, Pathfinder is practically an interplanetary tech demonstration, showing off new landing techniques (aerobraking and landing airbags), new lander designs (a fixed station delivering a wheeled “rover”), and the beginning of a new commitment to exploring Mars. By the time operations are wrapped up on the Pathfinder mission, the total amount of money spent is under $300,000,000.