The Mars Pathfinder and Viking Missions to Mars – A Photo Comparison

The Mars Pathfinder


Viking Missions to Mars

A Photo Comparison

By Ron Gerbron, Andrew Currie

& Robert Morningstar

(Copyright 2020, R. Gerbron, A. Currie, R. Morningstar-All Rights Reserved)

Official Description of The Pathfinder Mission

From NASA History

Mars Pathfinder was launched on December 4, 1996 at 1:58:07 am EST on a Delta II rocket. After an uneventful journey, the spacecraft safely landed on the surface of Mars on July 4, 1997.

Its landing on the Ares Vallis plain was confirmed at 1:07 p.m. EDT. The air bag landing system, tested at Glenn’s Plum Brook Station in Sandusky, Ohio, performed well.

The first set of data was received shortly after 5:00 p.m. followed by the release of images at 9:30 p.m.

The Sojourner Rover, with three Lewis components, then began its Martian trek and returned images and other data over the course of three months.

After operating on the surface of Mars three times longer than expected and returning a tremendous amount of new information about the red planet, NASA’s Mars Pathfinder mission completed the last successful data transmission cycle from Pathfinder at 6:23 a.m. EDT on Sept. 27, 1997. Source:

Pathfinder “Imp Mania”

Robert Morningstar describes this discovery by Ron Gerbron as an example of “NASA DisInformation Technology”<NASA DIT>, namely, photo editing techniques intended to hide significant features and details that NASA wished to maintain obscured, or camouflaged.

This photo with the multiple rovers (dubbed by Ron Gerbron “Pathfinder Imp Mania“) is from one pan NASA released that they’d placed a Sojourner next to for all the “rocks” it visited.

Paradoxically, that is the only pan which wasn’t a crooked pile of mis-aligned patches <typical of “NASA DIT”>, so I took a piece from it where there weren’t any rover tags, just to show what the rubble on the ground looks like.

B &W “Half Dome” Pathfnder Image 
The colors in this slide have been computer enhanced in order to show the details of the martian surface. As a result, the colors shown here do not precisely represent those that a human observer would see on Mars.

32. Mars Pathfinder: Twin Peaks (19°N,34°W)

This image shows the view to the west of the Pathfinder landing site. At the bottom, portions of the spacecraft’s solar panels and airbags are visible. Pathfinder landed in the outflow region of the Ares Vallis, an outflow channel similar to Maja Valles (slide #24). Many rocks are visible in this image and may have been transported to this region by massive floods early in the history of Mars. A pair of hills known as “Twin Peaks,” located about 1 kilometer from the Pathfinder lander, can be seen on the horizon. It is thought that the Twin Peaks may be a small-scale version of the streamlined deposits shown in slide #25. The streamlined crater deposits in slide #25 are about 150 kilometers northeast of the Pathfinder landing site but are part of the same outflow channel system. As with the previous slide, this slide is actually a mosaic of many individual images, and there are some misalignments visible in the mosaic.
Mars Pathfinder image 81957
Right click here to download a high-resolution version of the image (3.52 MB)




Viking Lander Photo for Camparison with Pathfinder Photos

Utopia on Mars

The Viking Project, M. Dale-Bannister WU StLNASA

Explanation: The Viking 2 spacecraft was launched on the Road to Utopia in September of 1975 (30 years after Bing, Dotty, and Bob). In August of 1976, after making the second successful Martian landing, Viking 2’s lander began recording data used to produce this exquisitely detailed image of the Martian surface in the area of Utopia Planitia (the Plain of Utopia).

Visible at the lower right are the protective shroud that covered the lander’s soil collector head, ejected after the descent, along with one of the lander’s dust covered footpads. Seen near the center are shallow trenches dug by the sampler arm. Mars looks red because its surface is covered with reddish iron oxide dust (rust). This dust, suspended in the thin carbon dioxide atmosphere, also filters the sunlight causing surface views to take on a reddish tinge.

 The Vikings made the first successful landings on Mars 20 years agoWhat does Mars look like today?

Our Mars assicate, Anrew Currie contribued this unusual discovery found in the high resolution Vicking 2 photo above:

Source: APOD – Astronomy Picture of the Day


Ron Gerbron: A short bio

Proudly uncredentialed polymath with a proudly uncredentialed and deeply interested in the study of archeology, Ron was raised on a farm in Pennsylvania collecting arrowheads as a child. 

Ron found the programmatic aspect of education too limiting after attending a famous Quaker school in PA. Ahead of his studies and his time, he attempted to contort himself into attending college; before he gave up on academia and moved overseas. In all that time, he has focused his core attention on the metrology of our paleo history, particularly on other planets, especially Mars.

Ron is a member of The Enterprise Mission Imaging Team and a regular guest on Richard Hoagland’s radio program, The other Side of Midnight (@

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