Solving the Pebble Puzzle
January 10, 2005
In the quest to determine if a pebble was jamming the rock abrasion tool on NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity, scientists and engineers examined this panoramic camera spectra of the tool. On this chart, colored lines correspond to regions where panoramic camera reflectance spectra were acquired. Those regions are: the grinding wheel heads (yellow); the rock abrasion tool magnets (green); the supposed pebble (red); a sunlit portion of the aluminum rock abrasion tool housing (purple); and a shadowed portion of the rock abrasion tool housing (brown). These spectra demonstrated that the composition of the supposed pebble was clearly different from that of the sunlit and shadowed portions of the rock abrasion tool, while similar to that of the dust-coated rock abrasion tool magnets and grinding heads. This led the team to conclude that the object disabling the rock abrasion tool was in fact a martian pebble.
Topics: Mars Exploration Rover, Spacecraft, Space exploration, Rock Abrasion Tool, Ultra high molecular weight polyethylene, Opportunity rover, Mars, Abrasion