Moessbauer spectrometer

What does it do?

The Mossbauer Spectrometer is used for making donut-shaped depressions in the Martian soil.

Seriously, it is used to determine the composition of iron-bearing minerals in rocks and soil. Here are details from Cornell University (a good site for learning about the other rover instruments, too):

OK, guys and gals, here is not 1, not 2, not 3, not 4 -- but FIVE different views of the Mossbauer press on Opportunity Sol 38!

I'm going to try something a little different: just links to the original images for those REALLY interested in this stuff.

My poor little server is being beat to death by hits on the thumbnails on all the posts I have done, so from now on -- no thumbnails.

If you have a genuine interest in this stuff, follow the links.

So here are the links:

What you will see

The collection of images on Sol 38 are so far, to me, the most exciting! Because the area was photographed in stereo
before and after the soil press, there is very little ambiguity about what happened! Soil units that rotated, titled and fractured
are clearly seen. One little circular mat of "whatever-this-stuff-is" pops out of the area that was pressed -- and reaches for the sky!

Each one of these views has a story to tell:

1. is a before/after animation that shows all movements. You can see the soil units and how they move as units! You can see the
faint outline of the circular mats before the press -- and their emergence after the press.

2. is the stereo view of the same two images. It is most useful for studying changes up close and personal. If you rotate your head clockwise and counterclockwise, you can see the in glorious
stereo the soil blocks. I am particularlty fond of the area nearest the press where you can see how the little rod guys rose and fell along fracture lines.

3. is the stereo overlap before the press.

4. is the stereo overlap after the press. The circular unit rising out of the pressed area is as dramatic as anything I have seen so far!
There was a similar feature in the bottom of the Opportunity trench after a rover tread press -- along with a fantastic
array of WTSI features.

5. is an animated stereo of before/after press. It is not yet aligned very well, so expect a headache if you try viewing it. I am sure NASA will produce a much better product.

What I didn't see

Alas, I did not see a forest of "vertical guys" rise up after the press. There were many small rotations of features about an end point that LOOK like vertical guys in stereo -- but not in the true stereo view.

To paraphrase Einstein, Mars missed a good bet.

Good hunting.

I've got to ask: could the "circular unit rising out of the pressed area" in your #4 simply be an area molded by a slightly recessed phillips-head screw? I sense a cross nature to it, like I was looking down on the tip of a screwdriver. When I look at the Mossbauer head, I see two dark dots on it, that might be such screw heads:


One is right near the circular edge of the MS, similar to the circular unit in the impression.

Oh, I see it even better in an original at:


Both of the dots are shown in that impression, and even look to be at the correct orientation to each other.

Screw heads, I bet.

Maybe I'll have to see if I can find that construction detail of the MS somewhere on the Web.

Absolutely correct! 3mm Screwheads!!

The Mossbauer frame also explains the perfectly straight line and other perfectly circular depression beside it!

There is still the ever-present WTSI ( "whatever-this-stuff-is") -- but nobody is interested in that -- and of course the strange soil mechanics -- but no one is interested in that either!

Thanks again, hud. You are one sharp dude.


Well, I'm wondering how tall these vertical features are. Is there a way to measure that? I could estimate off the stereo image, but that's no good because I don't know how far apart the pair of shots were taken. Too much distance and the depth effect is exaggerated -- which is good for noticing depth, but bad for estimating its true measure.

(Elsewhere, I've seen calculations of distance to objects in a pancam, and navcam, stereo pairs, but that depends on knowing the precise distance between the 2 cameras, and their built-in eye-cross.)


By the way, I think you got #3 and #4 reveresed in your descriptions above. The file names' 'B' and 'A' are correct for 'Before' and 'After'. In my message, I meant to refer to #3 and not #4.

This is the "After":


And this is the "Before":


Yep, right again, hud.

I need an editor! Perhaps I should create a little private page for you to view before I post this stuff!


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