Pleased at Pathfinder's punch
Web posted at: 3:58 p.m. EDT (1558 GMT)
PASADENA, California (CNN) -- NASA's Pathfinder Mission to Mars did something for NASA that no mission seemed able to accomplish since the days of Apollo: It wowed the public.
Last July, for the first time since man last walked on the moon, people were able to pause and marvel at activity taking place on the surface of something in outer space.
Television and the Internet provided the conduits for viewing the images of the Martian landscape beamed back from Pathfinder and its rover, Sojourner.
It all culminated in a fast-spreading fever for admiring Earthlings: Mars madness, some of which lingers today.
Pathfinder became so much the rage that within days of its Mars landing a Mattel toy model of Sojourner was sold out in stores from coast to coast.
Last fall, the U.S. Postal Service issued a stamp commemorating the landing -- and used a rover to unveil it.
T-shirts, pins and refrigerator magnets also touted the historic event.
The end of the rover?
Even Disneyland has a Pathfinder exhibit -- an attraction in its new Tomorrowland. Video screens play the highlights. You can put on 3-D glasses and watch Sojourner crawling around on the extraterrestrial surface.
And, in Los Angeles, the school district sponsored a rover building contest.
NASA declared the Pathfinder mission dead months ago, after its last attempts to contact the spacecraft failed repeatedly.
Pathfinder and Sojourner are now frozen in time, in the places each last worked on Mars.
But one of the rover's engineers, Howard Eisen, dreams of eventually making contact with Sojourner again.
"I have always said I want to be an old man sitting in a rocking chair and have some young man come up to me, some astronaut, and say, 'Here you go, here's a wheel off your rover,'" Eisen said.
Correspondent John Zarrella contributed to this report.
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