The imager for Mars Pathfinder experiment

P. H. Smith, M. G. Tomasko, D. Britt, D. G. Crowe, R. Reid, H. U. Keller, N. Thomas, F. Gliem, P. Rueffer, R. Sullivan, R. Greeley, J. M. Knudsen, M. B. Madsen, H. P. Gunnlaugsson, S. F. Hviid, W. Goetz, L. A. Soderblom, L. Gaddis, R. Kirk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

114 Scopus citations


The imager for Mars Pathfinder (IMP), a stereoscopic, multispectral camera, is described in terms of its capabilities for studying the Martian environment. The camera's two eyes, separated by 15.0 cm, provide the camera with range-finding ability. Each eye illuminates half of a single CCD detector with a field of view of 14.4 × 14.0° and has 12 selectable filters. The f/18 optics have a large depth of field, and no focussing mechanism is required; a mechanical shutter is avoided by using the frame transfer capability of the 512 × 512 CCD. The resolving power of the camera, 0.98 mrad/pixel, is approximately the same as the Viking Lander cameras; however, the signal-to-noise ratio for IMP greatly exceeds Viking, approaching 350. This feature along with the stable calibration of the filters between 440 and 1000 nm distinguishes IMP from Viking. Specially designed targets are positioned on the Lander; they provide information on the magnetic properties of wind-blown dust, measure the wind vectors, and provide radiometric standard reflectors for calibration. Also, eight low-transmission filters are included for imaging the Sun directly at multiple wavelengths, giving IMP the ability to measure dust opacity and potentially the water vapor content. Several experiments beyond the requisite color panorama are described in detail: contour mapping of the local terrain, multispectral imaging of the surrounding rock and soil to study local mineralogy, viewing of three wind socks, measuring atmospheric opacity and water vapor content, and estimating the magnetic properties of wind-blown dust. This paper is intended to serve as a guide to understanding the scientific integrity of the IMP data that will be returned from Mars starting on July 4, 1997.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number96JE03568
Pages (from-to)4003-4025
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Planets
Issue numberE2
StatePublished - 1997
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Oceanography
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)
  • Environmental Science(all)


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