The Mars Pathfinder spacecraft was renamed Saturday to honor the late Carl Sagan, the astronomer who devoted his life to making the universe less mysterious for millions.
NASA administrator Dan Goldin said it was only right to remember Sagan, whose television show "Cosmos" retraced 15 billion years of cosmic evolution and who served as a consultant for all NASA's spacecraft."In the midst of our joy, we also felt Carl's absence," said Louis Friedman, executive director of the Planetary Society. "This is the first arrival of a U.S. spacecraft at Mars that Carl ever missed."
The Pathfinder spacecraft landed on Mars Friday, sending the Sojourner to explore the red planet and send back photographs. It will not leave Mars and will now be officially known as the Carl Sagan Memorial Station.
Sagan's wife, Ann Druyan, choked back tears during the brief ceremony. "He was the real thing, and that he should touch another world so profoundly fills me with joy," she said.