Mars Exploration Rover Athena Panoramic Camera (Pancam) investigation

Journal of Geophysical Research E: Planets
By: , and 



The Panoramic Camera (Pancam) investigation is part of the Athena science payload launched to Mars in 2003 on NASA's twin Mars Exploration Rover (MER) missions. The scientific goals of the Pancam investigation are to assess the high‐resolution morphology, topography, and geologic context of each MER landing site, to obtain color images to constrain the mineralogic, photometric, and physical properties of surface materials, and to determine dust and aerosol opacity and physical properties from direct imaging of the Sun and sky. Pancam also provides mission support measurements for the rovers, including Sun‐finding for rover navigation, hazard identification and digital terrain modeling to help guide long‐term rover traverse decisions, high‐resolution imaging to help guide the selection of in situ sampling targets, and acquisition of education and public outreach products. The Pancam optical, mechanical, and electronics design were optimized to achieve these science and mission support goals. Pancam is a multispectral, stereoscopic, panoramic imaging system consisting of two digital cameras mounted on a mast 1.5 m above the Martian surface. The mast allows Pancam to image the full 360° in azimuth and ±90° in elevation. Each Pancam camera utilizes a 1024 × 1024 active imaging area frame transfer CCD detector array. The Pancam optics have an effective focal length of 43 mm and a focal ratio of f/20, yielding an instantaneous field of view of 0.27 mrad/pixel and a field of view of 16° × 16°. Each rover's two Pancam “eyes” are separated by 30 cm and have a 1° toe‐in to provide adequate stereo parallax. Each eye also includes a small eight position filter wheel to allow surface mineralogic studies, multispectral sky imaging, and direct Sun imaging in the 400–1100 nm wavelength region. Pancam was designed and calibrated to operate within specifications on Mars at temperatures from −55° to +5°C. An onboard calibration target and fiducial marks provide the capability to validate the radiometric and geometric calibration on Mars.

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Mars Exploration Rover Athena Panoramic Camera (Pancam) investigation
Series title Journal of Geophysical Research E: Planets
DOI 10.1029/2003JE002070
Volume 108
Issue E12
Year Published 2003
Language English
Publisher American Geophysical Union
Publisher location Washington, D.C.
Contributing office(s) Astrogeology Science Center
Description 30 p.
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title Journal of Geophysical Research E: Planets
Other Geospatial Mars
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