Dust deposition on the Mars Exploration Rover Panoramic Camera (Pancam) calibration targets

Kjartan M. Kinch, Jascha Sohl-Dickstein, James F. Bell, Jeffrey R. Johnson, Walter Goetz, Geoffrey A. Landis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


The Panoramic Camera (Pancam) on the Mars Exploration Rover mission has acquired in excess of 20,000 images of the Pancam calibration targets on the rovers. Analysis of this data set allows estimates of the rate of deposition and removal of aeolian dust on both rovers. During the first 150-170 sols there was gradual dust accumulation on the rovers but no evidence for dust removal. After that time there is ample evidence for both dust removal and dust deposition on both rover decks. We analyze data from early in both rover missions using a diffusive reflectance mixing model. Assuming a dust settling rate proportional to the atmospheric optical depth, we derive spectra of optically thick layers of airfall dust that are consistent with spectra from dusty regions on the Martian surface. Airfall dust reflectance at the Opportunity site appears greater than at the Spirit site, consistent with other observations. We estimate the optical depth of dust deposited on the Spirit calibration target by sol 150 to be 0.44 ± 0.13. For Opportunity the value was 0.39 ± 0.12. Assuming 80% pore space, we estimate that the dust layer grew at a rate of one grain diameter per ∼100 sols on the Spirit calibration target. On Opportunity the rate was one grain diameter per ∼125 sols. These numbers are consistent with dust deposition rates observed by Mars Pathfinder taking into account the lower atmospheric dust optical depth during the Mars Pathfinder mission.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberE06S03
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Planets
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 20 2007
Externally publishedYes

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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