In 1997, NASA's Mars Pathfinder took this picture of an unusual rock dubbed 'Ginger,' located southeast of the lander.

One of the more unusual rocks at the site is Ginger, located southeast of the lander. Parts of it have the reddest color of any material in view, whereas its rounded lobes are gray and relatively unweathered. These color differences are brought out in the inset, enhanced at the upper right. In the false color image at the lower right, the shape of the visible-wavelength spectrum (related to the abundance of weathered ferric iron minerals) is indicated by the hue of the rocks. Blue indicates relatively unweathered rocks. Typical soils and drift, which are heavily weathered, are shown in green and flesh tones. The very red color in the creases in the rock surface correspond to a crust of ferric minerals. The origin of the rock is uncertain; the ferric crust may have grown underneath the rock, or it may cement pebbles together into a conglomerate. Ginger will be a target of future super-resolution studies to better constrain its origin.

Mars Pathfinder is the second in NASA's Discovery program of low-cost spacecraft with highly focused science goals. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA, developed and manages the Mars Pathfinder mission for NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington, D.C. The Imager for Mars Pathfinder (IMP) was developed by the University of Arizona Lunar and Planetary Laboratory under contract to JPL. Peter Smith is the Principal Investigator. JPL is an operating division of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech).

Photojournal note: Sojourner spent 83 days of a planned seven-day mission exploring the Martian terrain, acquiring images, and taking chemical, atmospheric and other measurements. The final data transmission received from Pathfinder was at 10:23 UTC on September 27, 1997. Although mission managers tried to restore full communications during the following five months, the successful mission was terminated on March 10, 1998.

View all Images