www.whyville.net Jan 9, 2004 Weekly Issue

Science Reporter

Parts of a Mars Rover

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A few months ago, twin Mars exploration rovers Spirit and Opportunity were launched into space by NASA. Now, months later, the rovers have landed and are in search of answers about the history of water on Mars. Information they send back to Earth may give us the answers to whether or not Mars does or did sustain life now or previously. But how do they do this?

The Panoramic Camera or Pancam determines the mineralogy, texture, and structure of the terrain. The Pancam will be able to determine whether it was likely that Mars had water previously.

The Minature Thermal Emission Spectrometer or Mini-TES identifies rocks and soil to determine the processes that formed Martian rocks. It can also provide temperature profiles of the atmosphere on Mars.

The Mossbauer Spectometer or MB will take close up investigations of iron bearing rocks and soils.

The Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer or APXS analyzes the abundance of elements that make up rocks and soils.

Magnets collect dust particles. The APXS and MB analyze these particles to determine the ratio of magnetic particles to non-magnetic particles.

The Microscopic Imager or MI obtains close-up, high resolution images of rocks and soils.

The Rock Abrasion Tool or RAT removes dusty and weathered rock surfaces to expose fresh material for examination.

Of course there are many other parts, but I hope I gave you a good idea of the major components.

Reach for the stars! =)



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