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Spacecraft: Surface Operations: Instruments

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image of Miniature Thermal Emission Spectrometer (Mini-TES) Miniature Thermal Emission Spectrometer (Mini-TES)

Mini-TES is an infrared spectrometer that can determine the mineralogy of rocks and soils from a distance by detecting their patterns of thermal radiation. All warm objects emit heat, but different objects emit heat differently. This variation in thermal radiation can help scientists identify the minerals on Mars. Mini-TES records the spectra of various rocks and soils. These spectra are studied to determine the type of minerals and their abundances at selected locations. One particular goal is to search for minerals that were formed by the action of water, such as carbonates and clays. Mini-TES also looks at the atmosphere of Mars and gathers data on temperature, water vapor, and the abundance of dust.

image of Miniature Thermal Emission Spectrometer (Mini-TES) with the viewing port pointed out
Mini-TES weighs 2.1 kg (almost 5 lbs) and is located in the body of the rover at the bottom of the "rover neck," known as the Pancam Mast Assembly (PMA). Scanning mirrors located in the Pancam Mast Assembly act like a periscope to send light down to the instrument. This structure allows Mini-TES to see the terrain around the rover from the same vantage point as Pancam. Mini-TES looks one way, and the Pancams looks the other way. To make observations of the same location from both of the instruments, the Pancam Mast Assembly (the rover's neck) must be commanded to swivel.
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