After Viking’s foray into the great unknown, we amassed so much more information that we didn’t know what to do with ourselves yet we spent the next few decades focusing our space efforts on things with more immediate effects. It wasn’t until the 1990s that NASA really took another hard look at Mars and was like “Let’s %&*$@#! do this $*%!” Well it probably didn’t happen just like that but something similar took place I’m sure.
Mars Global Surveyor was the next project that NASA poured themselves into, along with the Pathfinder/Sojourner which I will talk about later. MGS was a fantastic success from it’s inception and provided NASA with a huge amount of high resolution photos that went unmatched for many years. More than that it was also equipped to check out the condition of the atmosphere and “weather”. This was crucial not only for knowing sake but also because the Pathfinder was already on its way to Mars, and any extra information on its landing area would not go unappreciated. Pathfinder was a lander that, when it realized it was on stable martian land, gave birth to a little solar powered baby named Sojourner that would be the one doing to grunt work. It was more or less a roving probe that examined, in great detail, the area surrounding the Pathfinder.
Taking samples and translating that into data transferred back to earth was a technology that became much more dependable this time around. This whole mission proved to be a “proof of concept” for lots of other technologies that would later be mainstays in rovers to come