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Microscopic Imager

The Microscopic Imager is a combination of a microscope and a camera. It will produce extreme close-up views of rocks and soils examined by other instruments on the instrument arm, providing contextual information for the interpretation of mineral and element composition data.

This instrument's detailed pictures will make other types of observations more useful since we will be able to associate them with a visual scene. Microscopic imaging will aid in the characterization of sedimentary rocks that formed in water, and thus will help scientists understand past watery environments on Mars. This instrument will also yield information on the small-scale features of rocks formed by volcanic and impact activity as well as tiny veins of minerals like the carbonates that may contain microfossils in the famous Mars meteorite, ALH84001.

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Credit: NASA/JPL/Cornell/USGS
An image mosaic, provided by Opportunity's Microscopic Imager, that shows the fine layers (laminae) that are truncated and at angles to each other in the portion of a martian rock called "Upper Dells." Interpretive black lines trace the cross-lamination that indicates the sediments that formed the rock were laid down in gently flowing water. The interpretive blue lines point to boundaries between possible sets of cross-laminae. Eight spherules can be seen embedded in the rock, and one larger pebble sits on the present-day surface of the rock. (released March 23, 2004)


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