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Pathfinder begins to send back color panorama

wind.socks July 13, 1997
Web posted at: 10:08 p.m. EDT (0208 GMT)

PASADENA, California (CNN) -- The first panels of a sweeping color panorama of the surface of Mars were sent back to Earth Sunday from the Mars Pathfinder.

The remaining two-thirds of the information NASA scientists will need to complete the 360-degree view from Pathfinder is expected to be sent back during a communications session scheduled during the next Martian day, which begins late Sunday night.

video icon Mars QuickTime Movies

Virtual reality of the Mars probe from Pathfinder's perspective
15 sec./675k QuickTime movie

Color-controlled animation of Mars surface
30 sec./1M QuickTime movie

Slideshow of three-dimensional images from Mars
(requires red-blue 3-D glasses)

41 sec./750k QuickTime movie

Over the weekend, the ground crew at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory also worked to eliminate a software bug that temporarily left Pathfinder disconnected from Earth late last week.


The NASA team determined that a system overload caused the spacecraft's computer to reset, which broke the communications link. But the scientists have reprogrammed Pathfinder in a way they hope will fix the problem during future overloads.

"What we've done is set a parameter (telling it) don't reset if you have problems the first time," said project manager Brian Muirhead. "It's not a serious problem."

On Monday, the Pathfinder's Rover, Sojourner, was expected to use its on-board X-ray spectrometer, called APXS, to analyze the Martian rock called Yogi. Because sending back the panoramic picture was given priority, the rover was idle on Sunday.

A color panoramic view from the lander Map of Pathfinder's landing site
View a 360 degree panorama from Pathfinder on Mars
Image courtesy NASA

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Dr. Matthew Golombek explains the rover movement
video icon 612K/15 sec. QuickTime movie

This week, the Pathfinder science team plans to continue analyzing data from a Danish experiment of the magnetic dust that blows around the Martian atmosphere. The data may provide new information about how the planet evolved.


"There's no place on Earth that is covered with magnetic dust," said Muirhead said. "We should get an idea where that evolved from."

Reuters contributed to this report.

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