This pair of images shows a broad view (upper image) and detailed close-up view (lower image) of the disturbed surface near and on Mermaid Dune. Seen slightly right of center in the upper image are two diggings by the rover's wheel. The uppermost rut is in the surface away from Mermaid and is considered to be typical of the surface at the landing site. The closer rut represents the surface at the base of Mermaid on the upwind side. The lower image is an enlargement of the disturbed Mermaid sediments plus those of the underlying substrate; that is, the ground upon which the dune lies. Seen in the close-up are at least two types of sediment, one that seems to be approximately 1.4 cm thick and forms piles with sides sloping at approximately 35 degrees, and another at least 3 cm deep composed of sediment that has a characteristic slope of 41 degrees when piled. It is apparent in the images that there is a size range of sediment present in the rut, sediment that ranges from a few millimeters in size down to below the resolution of the camera.
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. JPL is a 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.