Mars Pathfinder Spacecraft
Mars Pathfinder Rover
The Surface of Mars
Chronology of Mars Exploration
Mars Image/Animation Gallery
Panoramic Views of the Landing site from Sagan Memorial Station
Each of these panoramic views is a controlled mosaic of approximately 300 IMP images covering 360 degrees of azimuth and elevations from approximately 4 degrees above the horizon to 45 degrees below it. Simultaneous adjustment of orientations of all images has been performed to minimize discontinuities between images. Mosaics have been highpass-filtered and contrast-enhanced to improve discrimination of details without distorting relative colors overall.
TOP IMAGE: Enhanced true-color image created from the 'Gallary Pan' sequence, acquired on sols 8-10 so that local solar time increases nearly continuously from about 10:00 at the right edge to about 12:00 at the left. Mosaics of images obtained by the right camera through 670 nm, 530 nm, and 440 nm filters were used as red, green and blue channels. Grid ticks indicate azimuth clockwise from north in 30 degree increments and elevation in 15 degree increments.
BOTTOM IMAGE: Anaglyphic stereoimage created from the 'monster pan' sequence,
acquired in four sections between about 8:30 and 15:00 local solar time on
sol 3. Mosaics of images obtained through the 670 nm filter (left camera) and
530 and 440 nm filters (right camera) were used where available. At the top
and bottom, left- and right-camera 670 nm images were used. Part of the
northern horizon was not imaged because of the tilt of the lander. This image
may be viewed stereoscopically through glasses with a red filter for the left
eye and a cyan filter for the right eye.
Coordinate Map of Rocks at Pathfinder Landing Site
Mars-local-level (LL frame) coordinate map of rocks counted at the Mars Pathfinder landing site. Positions, apparent diameters (D), and heights (H) were measured to the nearest centimeter in the Marsmap virtual reality environment constructed from the "Monster Pan". (Courtesy USGS)
Various images of the Sojourner rover shot by the Pathfinder cameras have been composited into the Presidential Panorama. Since the camera's position was consistent, it is thus possible to see these images of the rover in the context of the entire landscape. This provides a visual scale for understanding the sizes and distances of rocks surrounding the lander as well as a record of the travels of the rover. (Courtesy Carol Stoker/NASA AMES)
Sunset over Twin Peaks
This image was taken by the Imager for Mars Pathfinder (IMP) about one minute after sunset on Mars on Sol 21. The prominent hills dubbed "Twin Peaks" form a dark silhouette at the horizon, while the setting sun casts a pink glow over the darkening sky. The image was taken as part of a twilight study which indicates how the brightness of the sky fades with time after sunset. Scientists found that the sky stays bright for up to two hours after sunset, indicating that Martian dust extends very high into the atmosphere. (Courtesy University of Arizona)
Clouds Over the Eastern Martian Horizon
Pink stratus clouds are coming from the northeast at about 15 miles per hour (6.7 meters/second) at an approximate height of ten miles (16 kilometers) above the surface. The clouds consist of water ice condensed on reddish dust particles suspended in the atmosphere. Clouds on Mars are sometimes localized and can sometimes cover entire regions, but have not yet been observed to cover the entire planet. The image was taken by the Imager for Mars Pathfinder (IMP) on Sol 16 about forty minutes before sunrise showing areas of the eastern Martian horizon. (Courtesy University of Arizona)
Wind Effects on Martian Soil
This false-color combination image highlights details of wind effects on the Martian soil at the Pathfinder landing site. Red and blue filter images have been combined to enhance brightness contrasts among several soil units. Martian winds have distributed these lighter and darker fine materials in complex patterns around the rocks in the scene (blue). For scale, the rock at right center is 16 centimeters (6.3 inches) long. This scene is one of several that will be monitored weekly for changes caused by wind activity. (Courtesy University of Arizona)
Sojourner at Mermaid Dune
This is an image of the rover Sojourner at the feature called Mermaid Dune at the MPF landing site. Mermaid is thought to be a low, transverse dune ridge, with its long (approximately 2 meter) axis transverse to the wind, which is thought to come from the lower left of the image and blow toward the upper right. The rover is facing to the lower left, the "upwind" direction. The rover's middle wheels are at the crestline of the small dune, and the rear wheels are on the lee side of the feature. A soil mechanics experiment was performed to dig into the dune and examine the sediments exposed. (Courtesy University of Arizona)
Clouds over Mars!
This is the first color image ever taken from the surface of Mars of an overcast sky. Featured are pink stratus clouds coming from the northeast at about 15 miles per hour (6.7 meters/second) at an approximate height of ten miles (16 kilometers) above the surface. The clouds consist of water ice condensed on reddish dust particles suspended in the atmosphere. Clouds on Mars are sometimes localized and can sometimes cover entire regions, but have not yet been observed to cover the entire planet. The image was taken about an hour and forty minutes before sunrise by the Imager for Mars Pathfinder (IMP) on Sol 16 at about ten degrees up from the eastern Martian horizon. (Courtesy University of Arizona)
This enhanced color image of the Pathfinder landing site shows the eastern horizon. The elongated, reddish, low contrast region in the distance is "Roadrunner Flats". This image was taken by the Imager for Mars Pathfinder (IMP). (Courtesy USGS)
Closeup of Mermaid Dune
This pair of images shows a broad view (upper image) and detailed close-up view (lower image) of the disturbed surface near and on Mermaid Dune. Seen slightly right of center in the upper image are two diggings by the rover's wheel. The uppermost rut is in the surface away from Mermaid and is considered to be typical of the surface at the landing site. The closer rut represents the surface at the base of Mermaid on the upwind side. The lower image is an enlargement of the disturbed Mermaid sediments plus those of the underlying substrate; that is, the ground upon which the dune lies. Seen in the close-up are at least two types of sediment, one that seems to be approximately 1.4 cm thick and forms piles with sides sloping at approximately 35 degrees, and another at least 3 cm deep composed of sediment that has a characteristic slope of 41 degrees when piled. It is apparent in the images that there is a size range of sediment present in the rut, sediment that ranges from a few millimeters in size down to below the resolution of the camera. (Courtesy USGS)
Overhead View of Pathfinder Landing Site
Planimetric (overhead view) map of the landing site, to a distance of 20 meters from the spacecraft. North is at the top in this and Plates 3-5. To produce this map, images were geometrically projected onto an assumed mean surface representing the ground. Features above the ground plane (primarily rocks) therefore appear displaced radially outward; the amount of distortion increases systematically with distance. The upper surfaces of the lander and rover also appear enlarged and displaced because of their height. Primary grid (white) is based on the Landing Site Cartographic (LSC) coordinate system, defined with X eastward, Y north, and Z up, and origin located at the mean ground surface immediately beneath the deployed position of the IMP camera gimbal center. Secondary ticks (cyan) are based on the Mars local level (LL) frame, which has X north, Y east, Z down, with origin in the center of the lander baseplate. Rover positions (including APXS measurements) are commonly reported in the LL frame. Yellow grid shows polar coordinates based on the LSC system. Cartographic image processing by U.S. Geological Survey. (Courtesy USGS)
This false color composite image from the Pathfinder lander shows the rock "Shark" at upper right (Shark is about 0.69 m wide, 0.40 m high, and 6.4 m from the lander). The rock looks like a conglomerate in Sojourner rover images, but only the large elements of its surface textures can be seen here. This demonstrates the usefulness of having a robot rover geologist able to examine rocks up close. (Courtesy USGS)
This false color composite image of the Rock Garden shows the rocks "Shark" and "Half Dome" at upper left and middle, respectively. Between these two large rocks is a smaller rock (about 0.20 m wide, 0.10m high, and 6.33 m from the Lander) that was observed close- up with the Sojourner rover. (Courtesy USGS)
This Sojourner rover image of the Cabbage Patch shows small rounded objects on the surface that are about 3-4 cm across. Some of these are within excavations, which are about 0.5 cm wide. Several questions arise about the pebbles: Why are they rounded? Where did they come from? What do they mean?
Geologists use MULTIPLE WORKING HYPOTHESES when attempting to explain observations. Some hypotheses that could account for the pebbles are:
- They were rounded during transport by waters of catastrophic floods and deposited on the Ares Vallis flood plain.
- They were rounded by wave action on an ancient Martian beach.
- They were rounded during glacial transport.
- They are glasses that were produced by melting during impact cratering. The glass was first ejected from the crater, then molded into spherical shapes or drops as it traveled through the atmosphere, and finally was deposited at the sites.
- They are spatter from lava flows.
- They are nodules brought up from the deep Martian interior by lava flows or pyroclastic eruptions.
- They are concretions formed in sedimentary rocks.
- They came from ancient conglomerate rocks. The pebbles were rounded by water action and subsequently lithified into conglomerate rocks. Later, the waters of catastrophic floods transported the conglomerates and deposited them on the Ares flood plain. The pebbles were then freed from the rocks by weathering.
- A combination of the above.
Pebbles and Cobbles at Mars Pathfinder Site
Pebbles are seen in lander images, along with cobbles. For example, in this picture, we see the same pebbles that were visible in the Sojourner rover image of the "Cabbage Patch". In addition, a cobble within the rock "Lamb" (upper left) is apparent. This indicates that Lamb may be a conglomerate (Lamb is 0.32 m x 0.15 m). (Courtesy USGS)
Pebbles, Cobbles, and Sockets
This Rover image of "Shark" (upper left center), "Half Dome" (upper right), and a small rock (right foreground) reveal textures and structures not visible in lander camera images. These rocks are interpreted as conglomerates because their surfaces have rounded protrusions up to several centimeters in size. It is suggested that the protrusions are pebbles and granules. (Courtesy USGS)
Sockets and Pebbles
This close-up Sojourner rover image of a small rock shows that weathering has etched-out pebbles to produce sockets. In the image, sunlight is coming from the upper left. Sockets (with shadows on top) are visible at the lower left and pebbles (with bright tops and shadowed bases) are seen at the lower center and lower right. Two pebbles (about 0.5 cm across) are visible at the lower center. (Courtesy USGS)
Topographic Map of Pathfinder Landing Site
Topographic map of the landing site, to a distance of 60 meters from the lander in the LSC coordinate system. The lander is shown schematically in the center; 2.5 meter radius circle (black) centered on the camera was not mapped. Gentle relief [root mean square (rms) elevation variation 0.5 m; rms adirectional slope 4O] and organization of topography into northwest and northeast-trending ridges about 20 meters apart are apparent. Roughly 30% of the illustrated area is hidden from the camera behind these ridges. Contours (0.2m interval) and color coding of elevations were generated from a digital terrain model, which was interpolated by kriging from approximately 700 measured points. Angular and parallax point coordinates were measured manually on a large (5m length) anaglyphic uncontrolled mosaic and used to calculate Cartesian (LSC) coordinates. Errors in azimuth on the order of 1O are therefore likely; elevation errors were minimized by referencing elevations to the local horizon. The uncertainty in range measurements increases quadratically with range. Given a measurement error of 1/2 pixel, the expected precision in range is ~ 0.3 meter at 10 meter range, and ~ 10 meters at 60 meter range. Repeated measurements were made, compared, and edited for consistency to improve the range precision. Systematic errors undoubtedly remain and will be corrected in future maps compiled digitally from geometrically controlled images. Cartographic processing by U.S. Geological Survey. (Courtesy USGS)