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Rover Imaging Cameras


Mission Name: Mars Pathfinder Rover


The Mars Pathfinder Sojourner Rover was equipped with two forward black and white cameras and one rear color camera. The cameras are used for close-up imaging of rock samples and soil, viewing the lander from different perspectives, imaging areas out of the field of view of the lander cameras, imaging results of rover abrasion tests and other experiments, and aiding in navigation and obstacle avoidance. The primary scientific objectives are to image the sites onto which the APXS instrument was deployed to assist in interpretation of the APXS results, to use close-up images of rocks and soils to understand the textures and small scale features, and to provide high-resolution views of the rover tracks and abrasion marks to infer material properties of the soil and rocks.

The black and white cameras are mounted in a fixed position on the front of the rover, separated horizontally to provide stereo coverage. Each camera is boresighted straight ahead but directed 22.5 degrees below horizontal to view the ground in front of the rover. Each camera has a mass of about 40 grams and is composed of a very wide angle 4 mm lens which focuses the image onto a CCD array. The wide-angle distortion is corrected by image processing on the ground. The field of view for each camera is 127.5 degrees horizontal by 94.5 degrees vertical. The CCD is a 768 x 484 pixel array made up of rectangular elements with resolution of 2.9 mradian/pixel horizontal and 3.4 mradian/pixel vertical.

The color camera is mounted in a fixed position on the rear of the rover. Like the black and white cameras, it weighs about 40 grams and consists of a 4 mm wide-angle lens and a CCD array. The CCD array has the same specifications as for the black and white cameras, except the camera is oriented so that the long dimension of the field of view is vertical instead of horizontal and the boresight angle is 40 degrees below horizontal. This gives a view of the APXS instrument and a rear wheel. Each pixel of the CCD has an individual red, green, or blue color mask to produce the color pictures.

Alternate Names

  • MarsPathfinderRover/RoverImagingCameras
  • urn:nasa:pds:context:instrument:mpfr.rclt
  • urn:nasa:pds:context:instrument:mpfr.rcrr
  • urn:nasa:pds:context:instrument:mpfr.rcrt

Facts in Brief

Mass: 0.12 kg
Power (avg): 4.2 W

Funding Agency

  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration (United States)


  • Planetary Science: Atmospheres
  • Engineering: None assigned
  • Planetary Science: Geology and Geophysics

Additional Information

Questions and comments about this experiment can be directed to: Dr. David R. Williams



NameRoleOriginal AffiliationE-mail
Dr. Henry J. MooreGeneral Contact

Selected References

  • The Rover Team, The Pathfinder microrover, J. Geophys. Res., 102, No. E2, 3989-4001, doi:10.1029/96JE01922, Feb. 1997.

Related Information at NSSDCA

Image of Mars Pathfinder Imager on Mast

Mars Pathfinder Imager deployed on the pop-up mast

Mars Pathfinder Images

Other Sources of Mars Pathfinder Imager Data/Information

Mars Pathfinder Imager Home Page (University of Arizona)

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