Right now, the Imager for Mars Pathfinder (IMP), which will take color and stereo pictures on Mars, is being tested and calibrated at the University of Arizona (UA) in Tucson. The IMP team is headed by UA planetary scientist Peter Smith. In mid-November, IMP specialist Dan Britt reported that the camera is being tested in a clean room on the UA campus. In October, the IMP went through "thermal vac," where IMP was placed in a chamber and put through simulated space and Mars environments (Mars atmospheric pressure and temperature range) to test how it works under these conditions. The thermal vac tests went very well. Britt says right now they are "calibrating like mad," working nearly 24 hours a day. IMP will be shipped to the Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif., in mid-December. There, it will be put on Mars Pathfinder, then go through more tests before its launch in December 1996.
Meanwhile, Dan Britt said they are gearing up to get started on a second IMP imaging system-- this one is going on the Mars Surveyor lander headed to the martian South Polar region in 1999 (see related article).
Click HERE for IMP Home Page at the University of Arizona in Tucson.