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
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
Reach for the stars! =)