The Mars Exploration Rovers will carry the first-ever interplanetary sundial. This
will also be used to calibrate Pancam, the panoramic
camera on the rovers.
While on Mars, Pancam will image the sundial many times. Some of these
pictures will be put together into a
that will show the passage of time on Mars.
here to see a movie.
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A simulated image of the Mars Rover showing the Mars Sundial on the rear solar panel.
Sundials have long been used on Earth as timekeepers. They are also works of art. Much thought goes into the design of a sundial, and the drawings and
motto that each boasts. The same is true of the martian sundial. It was designed by seven people associated with the Athena science team. They used
designs and ideas from students in schools across the United States. The rings around the center post symbolize the orbits of Earth and Mars. The word
Mars is displayed in 17 different languages. Each side of the sundial has an inscription that tells why we made the journey to Mars, and is illustrated by
drawings that were submitted by students.
While on Mars, Pancam will image the sundial many times. Some of these pictures will be put together into a "movie" that will show the passage of time
on Mars. Scientists will also use the Pancam images of the sundial to calibrate or adjust images from Mars. They will use the colored blocks in the
corners of the sundial to calibrate the color in images of the martian landscape. That means you'll see Mars in its true colors. Pictures of the shadows
that are cast by the sundial's center post will allow scientists to properly adjust the brightness of each Pancam image.