The first color panorama returned by the Imager for Mars Pathfinder (IMP) after Mars Pathfinder's landing included several larger, gray rocks, bright red dust on a flat-topped rock and the ground between the rocks, and darker red soil exposed where Pathfinder's landing dislodged a small rock. The rock dubbed "Flat Top" is at the low center of the images. The less red color and low reflectance of the rocks is consistent with the iron minerals found in igneous rocks, whereas the fine, bright drift has a spectrum indicative of a weathering product. The strength of the bend, or "kink," in the spectrum is related to the abundance and particle size of specific crustalline, ferric weathering products. In the false color image, the blue areas have a weak kink and are relatively unweathered, whereas the red areas' strong kink indicates an abundance of ferric iron minerals.
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. The Imager for Mars Pathfinder (IMP) was developed by the University of Arizona Lunar and Planetary Laboratory under contract to JPL. Peter Smith is the Principal Investigator. JPL is an operating division of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech).
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.