Several prominent features of Mars Pathfinder and surrounding terrain are seen in this image, taken by the Imager for Mars Pathfinder on July 4 (Sol 1), the spacecraft's first day on the Red Planet. Portions of a lander petal are at the lower part of the image. At the left, the mechanism for the high-gain antenna can be seen. The dark area along the right side of the image represents a portion of the low-gain antenna. The radiation calibration target is at the right. The calibration target is made up of a number of materials with well-characterized colors. The known colors of the calibration targets allow scientists to determine the true colors of the rocks and soils of Mars. Three bull's-eye rings provide a wide range of brightness for the camera, similar to a photographer's grayscale chart. In the middle of the bull's-eye is a 5-inch tall post that casts a shadow, which is distorted in this image due to its location with respect to the lander camera.
A large rock is located at the near center of the image. Smaller rocks and areas of soil are strewn across the Martian terrain up to the horizon line.
Mars Pathfinder is the second in NASA's Discovery program of low-cost spacecraft with highly focused science goals. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA, developed and manages the Mars Pathfinder mission for NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington, D.C.
Photojournal note: Sojourner spent 83 days of a planned seven-day mission exploring the Martian terrain, acquiring images, and taking chemical, atmospheric and other measurements. The final data transmission received from Pathfinder was at 10:23 UTC on September 27, 1997. Although mission managers tried to restore full communications during the following five months, the successful mission was terminated on March 10, 1998.