Overview of the Microscopic Imager Investigation during Spirit's first 450 sols in Gusev crater

Ken E. Herkenhoff, Steve W. Squyres, Robert Anderson, Brent A. Archinal, Raymond E. Arvidson, Janet M. Barrett, Kris J. Becker, James Bell, Charles Budney, Nathalie A. Cabrol, Mary G. Chapman, Debbie Cook, Bethany L. Ehlmann, Jack Farmer, Brenda Franklin, Lisa R. Gaddis, Donna M. Galuszka, Patricia A. Garcia, Trent M. Hare, Elpitha Howington-KrausJeffrey R. Johnson, Sarah Johnson, Kjartan Kinch, Randolph L. Kirk, Ella Mae Lee, Craig Leff, Mark Lemmon, Morten B. Madsen, Justin N. Maki, Kevin F. Mullins, Bonnie L. Redding, Lutz Richter, Mark R. Rosiek, Michael H. Sims, Laurence A. Soderblom, Nicole Spanovich, Richard Springer, Robert M. Sucharski, Tracie Sucharski, Rob Sullivan, James M. Torson, Albert Yen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations


The Microscopic Imager (MI) on the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit has returned images of Mars with higher resolution than any previous camera system, allowing detailed petrographic and sedimentological studies of the rocks and soils at the Gusev landing site. Designed to simulate a geologist's hand lens, the MI is mounted on Spirit's instrument arm and can resolve objects 0.1 mm in size or larger. This paper provides an overview of MI operations, data calibration, processing, and analysis of MI data returned during the first 450 sols (Mars days) of the Spirit landed mission. The primary goal of this paper is to facilitate further analyses of MI data by summarizing the methods used to acquire and process the data, the radiometric and geometric accuracy of MI data products, and the availability of archival products. In addition, scientific results of the MI investigation are summarized. MI observations show that poorly sorted soils are common in Gusev crater, although aeolian bedforms have well-sorted coarse sand grains on their surfaces. Abraded surfaces of plains rocks show igneous textures, light-toned veins or fracture-filling minerals, and discrete coatings. The rocks in the Columbia Hills have a wide variety of granular textures, consistent with volcaniclastic or impact origins. Case hardening and submillimeter veins observed in the rocks as well as soil crusts and cemented clods imply episodic subsurface aqueous fluid movement, which has altered multiple geologic units in the Columbia Hills. The MI also monitored Spirit's solar panels and the magnets on the rover's deck.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberE02S04
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Planets
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 20 2006

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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