NASA's 2020 Mars Mission to have 23 'eyes' to study atmosphere of red planet

02 November 2017, 09:21 AM
NASA's 2020 Mars Mision to have 23 'eyes' to study atmosphere of red planet
NASA's 2020 Mars Mision to have 23 'eyes' to study atmosphere of red planet

In an order to provide the study on the atmosphere of the red planet, create sweeping panoramas, reveal obstacles, NASA's Mars 2020 mission will have 23 cameras.

According to the US space agency, these "eyes" will provide dramatic views during the rover's descent to Mars as it will be the first to take images of a parachute as it opens on another planet.

This is not all, NASA is planning to install a camera inside the rover's body which will help to study samples as they are stored and left on the surface for collection by a future mission.

Jim Bell of Arizona State University, principal investigator for 2020's Mastcam-Z said, The cameras on 2020 will include more colour and three-dimensional (3D) imaging than on Curiosity.

In the definition of the Mastcam-Z, the "Z" means "ZOOM" which will be rover's main eye. To examine geologic features and scouting potential samples from long distances away, Mastcam-Z's stereoscopic cameras will be used.

Features like erosion and soil textures can be spotted at the length of a soccer field.Documenting details like these are important: They could reveal geologic clues and serve as "field notes" to contextualize samples for future scientists.

"Routinely using 3D images at high resolution could pay off in a big way. They are useful for both long-range and near-field science targets," Bell said.When NASA's Mars Pathfinder touched down in 1997, it had five cameras: two on a mast that popped up from the lander, and three on NASA's first rover, Sojourner.

They represent a steady progression since Pathfinder: after that mission, the Spirit and Opportunity rovers were designed with 10 cameras each, including on their landers; Mars Science Laboratory's Curiosity rover has 17.

"Camera technology keeps improving," said Justin Maki of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in California."Each successive mission is able to utilize these improvements, with better performance and lower cost," said Maki, Mars 2020's imaging scientist.

The Spirit, Opportunity and Curiosity rovers were all designed with engineering cameras for planning drives (Navcams) and avoiding hazards (Hazcams).

These produced 1- megapixel images in black and white.On the new rover, the engineering cameras have been upgraded to acquire high-resolution, 20-megapixel colour images, NASA said.

Their lenses will also have a wider field of view. That is critical for the 2020 mission, which will try to maximise the time spent doing science and collecting samples, it said.

First Published: Thursday, November 02, 2017 09:01 AM

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