Rover "Neck and Head"
Two purposes of the Pancam Mast Assembly
- to act as a periscope for the Mini-TES science instrument that is housed inside the rover body for thermal reasons
- to provide height and a better point of view for the Pancams and the Navcams
Essentially, the pancam mast assembly enables the rover to see in the distance. The higher one stands, the more one can see. You can test this out for yourself by lying on the ground and observing as much as possible, then standing up and seeing the difference in the amount of greater detail you can observe about the world with a broader field of view.
One motor for the entire Pancam Mast Assembly head turns the cameras and Mini-TES 360º in the horizontal plane. A separate elevation motor can point the cameras 90º above the horizon and 90º below the horizon. A third motor for the Mini-TES elevation, enables the Mini-TES to point up to 30º over the horizon and 50º below the horizon.
The Pancam Mast Assembly rises from the rover equipment deck by driving a motor that moves the Pancam upward, in the shape of a helix. It sweeps out in a cone-like manner as it deploys. Once the Pancam Mast Assembly is in its full-upright position, it does not stow again, but stays upright for the entire duration of the mission.