Pancam is a device, which is used to picture images of the Martian surface and skies.
The size of Pancam cameras is very small and they are placed on the camera bar on the mast of the rover. They are only 270 grams in weight. Even though they are small in size, they can generate images as large as 4,000 pixels by 24,000 pixels in size.
There are various mechanisms, which allow the rover to set the camera in any direction so as to shoot images of its surroundings. There is a Pancam Mast Assembly (PAM), which enable the rover to rotate by 360 degrees horizontally and 90 degrees up or down. This enables the scientists to know the orientation of the rover on the surface of Mars. Also by use of these images, the scientists can determine the exact location of the rover.
Pancam allows scientists to scan the structures on Mars. These may give clues to the scientists about the history of this planet. For example: the formation of water channels on craters on Mars indicates a past history of water.
This instrument is also used to design a map of the area where the rover lands. We can also analyze interesting rocks and soils and can interpret the results. We can verify if there is layering in the rocks, whether the rocks are formed by sediments instead of volcanoes and see the rock grains and know whether they are wind-formed or shaped by water.
The images taken are converted to a series of zeros and ones and are transmitted to the earth. These images will be converted back to raw images on the earth.