Mars Exploration Rover, Artist's Concept


What are Science Instruments?

Science instruments are state-of-the-art tools for acquiring information about Martian geology, atmosphere, environmental conditions, and potential biosignatures.

Pancam Instrument

Panoramic Camera (Pancam) ›

Jim Bell, Payload Element Lead
Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona

The Panoramic Camera is known by its nickname, Pancam. Two cameras work in combination to take detailed, multi-wavelength, 3-D panoramic pictures of the Martian landscape surrounding the rover.

MI Instrument

Microscopic Imager (MI) ›

Ken Herkenhoff, Payload Element Lead
United States Geological Survey, Flagstaff, Arizona

The Microscopic Imager on the Spirit and Opportunity Rovers of the Mars Exploration Rovers is also known as MI. The high-resolution camera gives magnifying glass-views of Martian rocks and soils. It scouts promising targets for detailed study and analysis by other instruments on the rover.

Mini-Tes Instrument

Miniature Thermal Emission Spectrometer (Mini-TES) ›

Phil Christensen, Payload Element Lead
Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona

The Miniature Thermal Emission Spectrometer is called Mini-TES for short. Mini-TES measures the different spectrums of infrared light, or heat, emitted from different minerals in rocks and soils. Mini-TES is specially tuned to look for minerals formed in water.

MB Instrument

Mössbauer Spectrometer (MB) ›

Göstar Klingelhöfer, Payload Element Lead
Johannes Gutenberg-University, Germany

The Mössbauer Spectrometer on the Mars Exploration Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, is known as MB. The MB determines the makeup and quantities of iron-bearing minerals in geological samples studied by the rover. MB can be placed right up to rock and soil samples for close-up study, and it also examines magnetic dust samples collected by the Magnetic Array on the rover's deck.

APXS Instrument

Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS) ›

Rudi Rieder, Payload Element Lead
Max Planck Inst. für Chemie, Germany

The Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer on the Mars Exploration Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, is also called the APXS. The APXS reveals the elemental chemistry of rocks and soils by measuring the distinctive way difference materials respond to two kinds of radiation: X-rays and alpha particles.

rat Instrument

Rock Abrasion Tool (RAT) ›

Steve Gorevan, Payload Element Lead
Honeybee Robotics, Brooklyn, New York

The Rock Abrasion Tool on the Mars Exploration Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, is known as the RAT. The RAT's rotating, grinding teeth gnaw into the surface of Martian rock to reveal fresh mineral surfaces for analysis by the rover's scientific tools.

Magnet Array Instrument

Magnet Array ›

The Magnet Array is a scientific experiment that collects dust on the Mars Exploration Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity. Magnetic grains in Martian dust are tiny pieces of the Red Planet's past. The Magnetic Array collects the dust for analysis by scientific tools that identify the composition and present clues on the history of the dust particles.

Calibration Targets Instrument

Calibration Targets ›

The instruments use calibration targets, including a sundial, to determine accurate colors, brightnesses, and other information collected by the instruments.