Sojourner's first analysis of a rock on Mars began on Sol 3 with the study of Barnacle Bill, a nearby rock named for its rough surface. The Alpha Proton X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS) will be used to determine the elements that make up the rocks and soil on Mars. A full study using the APXS takes approximately ten hours, and can measure all elements except hydrogen at any time of the Martian day or night. The APXS will conduct its studies by bombarding rocks and soil samples with alpha particle radiation -- charged particles equivalent to the nucleus of a helium atom, consisting of two protons and two neutrons.
The image was taken by the Imager for Mars Pathfinder (IMP) after its deployment on Sol 3. Mars Pathfinder was developed and managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The IMP was developed by the University of Arizona Lunar and Planetary Laboratory under contract to JPL. Peter Smith is the Principal Investigator.
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.