[URL]http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov/mission/spacecraft_instru_pancam.html[/URL]\n\nThe first color shots from robotic Mars explorer Spirit's Pancam are\nexpected later today. If you told me a few years ago that I'd be able to\ndownload pictures from Mars to a computer in my Den and print them in full\ncolor within hours after they were taken, I'd have thought you were nuts.\n===============================\nThe Panoramic Camera (Pancam)\n\nPancam is a high-resolution color stereo pair of CCD cameras that will be\nused to image the surface and sky of Mars. The cameras are located on a\n"camera bar" that sits on top of the mast of the rover.\n\nThe Pancam Mast Assembly (PMA) allows the cameras to rotate a full 360° to\nobtain a panoramic view of the Martian landscape. The camera bar itself can\nswing up or down through 180° of elevation. Scientists will use Pancam to\nscan the horizon of Mars for landforms that may indicate a past history of\nwater. They will also use the instrument to create a map of the area where\nthe rover lands, as well as search for interesting rocks and soils to study.\n\nThe Pancam cameras are small enough to fit in the palm of your hand (270\ngrams or about 9 ounces), but can generate panoramic image mosaics as large\nas 4,000 pixels high and 24,000 pixels around. Pancam detectors are CCDs\n(charge coupled devices). These devices form the image, just as film does in\na film camera.\n\nEach "eye" of the Pancam carries a filter wheel that gives Pancam its\nmultispectral imaging capabilities. Images taken at various wavelengths can\nhelp scientists learn more about the minerals found in Martian rocks and\nsoils. Blue and infrared solar filters allow the camera to image the sun.\nThese data, along with images of the sky at a variety of wavelengths, will\nhelp to determine the orientation of the rover and will provide information\nabout the dust in the atmosphere of Mars. The Pancam color imaging system\nhas, by far, the best capability of any camera ever sent to the surface of\nanother planet.