Athena microscopic Imager investigation

K. E. Herkenhoff, S. W. Squyres, J. F. Bell, J. N. Maki, H. M. Arneson, P. Bertelsen, D. I. Brown, S. A. Collins, A. Dingizian, S. T. Elliott, W. Goetz, E. C. Hagerott, A. G. Hayes, M. J. Johnson, R. L. Kirk, S. McLennan, R. V. Morris, L. M. Scherr, M. A. Schwochert, L. R. ShiraishiG. H. Smith, L. A. Soderblom, J. N. Sohl-Dickstein, M. V. Wadsworth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

132 Scopus citations


The Athena science payload on the Mars Exploration Rovers (MER) includes the Microscopic Imager (MI). The MI is a fixed-focus camera mounted on the end of an extendable instrument arm, the Instrument Deployment Device (IDD). The MI was designed to acquire images at a spatial resolution of 30 microns/pixel over a broad spectral range (400-700 nm). The MI uses the same electronics design as the other MER cameras but has optics that yield a field of view of 31 × 31 mm across a 1024 × 1024 pixel CCD image. The MI acquires images using only solar or skylight illumination of the target surface. A contact sensor is used to place the MI slightly closer to the target surface than its best focus distance (about 66 mm), allowing concave surfaces to be imaged in good focus. Coarse focusing (∼2 mm precision) is achieved by moving the IDD away from a rock target after the contact sensor has been activated. The MI optics are protected from the Martian environment by a retractable dust cover. The dust cover includes a Kapton window that is tinted orange to restrict the spectral bandpass to 500-700 nm, allowing color information to be obtained by taking images with the dust cover open and closed. MI data will be used to place other MER instrument data in context and to aid in petrologic and geologic interpretations of rocks and soils on Mars.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)ROV 6-1 - ROV 6-23
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Planets
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 25 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Athena
  • Camera
  • Mars Exploration Rover
  • Microscopic Imager
  • NASA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Oceanography


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