TES NEWS Volume 4, Number 1, February 1995

Imager for Mars Pathfinder

Pathfinder Imaging System Testing Underway at U of A

Mars Pathfinder is slated to land in Ares Valles (19.5N, 32.8W) on July 4, 1997. It will be the first landing on the Red Planet since 1976. Mars Pathfinder carries a small rover that will move about on the surface and examine the composition of nearby rocks. The lander also has a camera system (IMP, the Imager for Mars Pathfinder) that can "see" through 24 color filters, some of which are in stereo.


Ares Valles Landing Site. Courtesy NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

IMP is being fabricated at the University of Arizona (UA) in Tucson under the direction of the principal investigator, Dr. Peter Smith. IMP testing and assembly is a collaborative effort involving UA, Martin Marietta, and the Max Plank Institute für Aeronomie in Germany. IMP also includes two sub-experiments, a magnetic particle collector from the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, and a wind sock experiment (see article on wind sock) from Arizona State University (ASU).

The prototype IMP is nearly complete, and the assembly of the flight model (the one that will actually go to Mars) will start in February 1995. Many of the parts, including electronic boards for IMP, are being put together on the UA campus. The flight model should be complete by mid-September 1995.


In The Garden. IMP team member Dan Britt inspects the Mars Garden at the University of Arizona's Lunar and Planetary Laboratory. The Mars Garden is being used for coordinated tests of the IMP and Mars Pathfinder's microrover. Photo by K. Edgett, December 1994.

More Mars Garden Pictures -->

UA has developed a Mars Garden for testing of the IMP. Tests include coordinated observations for microrover navigation, imaging of different rock, mineral, and soil types, and observation of the wind sock and magnetic particle experiments. The Mars Garden was first used in mid-November 1994. The microrover was brought to UA from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory to roam around the simulated martian landscape. The next testing will occur March 9-10. The Mars Garden is located at the UA's Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, next door to the Flandrau Planetarium. It is hoped that the Mars Garden area will be open to visitors to view live coverage of the Mars Pathfinder landing and imaging in July 1997.

The IMP team has a home page on the Internet World Wide Web, at URL http://www.lpl.arizona.edu/imp/imp.html.

Here is the IMP team's logo, courtesy of the University of Arizona:

Back to Contents of TES News February 1995

K.S. Edgett, January 1995

Arizona Mars K-12 Education Program / edgett@elvis.mars.asu.edu