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04.06.2010

San Diego Team Delivers Camera for Next Mars Rover

20100406.jpg
The Mast Camera (Mastcam) instrument for NASA's Mars Science Laboratory

Malin Space Science Systems Inc., San Diego, has delivered the two cameras for the Mast Camera instrument that will be the science-imaging workhorse of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory rover, to be launched next year. The instrument, called Mastcam, has been tested and is ready for installation onto the rover, named Curiosity, which is being built at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

The two component cameras have different fixed focal lengths: 34 millimeters and 100 millimeters (telephoto) and can provide high-definition color video. NASA is also providing funds for Malin to build an alternative version with zoom lenses on both cameras, in collaboration with movie producer James Cameron, a member of the Mastcam team. If the zoom pair can be completed in time for rover assembly and testing, the fixed-focal-length pair could be swapped out for them. Malin has also delivered the Mars Hand Lens Imager and the Mars Descent Imager for the Mars Science Laboratory. For more information, see Malin Space Science Systems news release.


All Related Images
  • Mastcam 34: Shorter Focal-Length Eye of Mast Camera Pair for Mars Rover
    Mastcam 34: Shorter Focal-Length Eye of Mast Camera Pair for Mars Rover
  • Mastcam 100: Longer Focal-Length Eye of Mast Camera Pair for Mars Rover
    Mastcam 100: Longer Focal-Length Eye of Mast Camera Pair for Mars Rover
  • Sample Image Through Camera Built for Next Mars Rover
    Sample Image Through Camera Built for Next Mars Rover
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Mastcam 34: Shorter Focal-Length Eye of Mast Camera Pair for Mars RoverFull Size Image
The Mast Camera (Mastcam) instrument for NASA's Mars Science Laboratory will use a side-by side pair of cameras for examining terrain around the mission's rover. The instrument delivered in March 2010 by Malin Space Science Systems, San Diego, to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., pairs two cameras with fixed focal lengths: a 34-millimeter focal length for one, shown here, and a 100-millimeter focal length for the other. This one, called Mastcam 34, offers wider-angle viewing while the other, Mastcam 100, offers telephoto capability. Each can provide color images and high-definition video, and they can be combined for stereo views.

This image includes a Swiss Army Knife (88.9 millimeters or 3.5 inches long) for scale. Mastcam 34 is a duplicate of Mastcam 100 except for the lens. Each includes refractive optics, a focus mechanism, a filter wheel, a charge-coupled device (CCD) sensor and associated electronics. The only external indication of which camera is which is that the front baffle opening for the Mastcam 100 is smaller than the front baffle opening of the Mastcam 34.

The Mars Science Laboratory mission is in assembly and testing for launch in autumn 2011 and delivering a rover named Curiosity to Mars in summer 2012

Image Credit: NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems
Mastcam 100: Longer Focal-Length Eye of Mast Camera Pair for Mars Rover Full Size Image
The Mast Camera (Mastcam) instrument for NASA's Mars Science Laboratory will use a side-by side pair of cameras for examining terrain around the mission's rover. The instrument delivered in March 2010 by Malin Space Science Systems, San Diego, to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., pairs two cameras with fixed focal lengths: a 100-millimeter focal length for one, shown here, and a 34-millimeter focal length for the other. This one, called Mastcam 100, offers telephoto capability while the other, Mastcam 34, offers a wider-angle view. Each can provide color images and high-definition video, and they can be combined for stereo views.

This image includes a Swiss Army Knife (88.9 millimeters or 3.5 inches long) for scale. Mastcam 100 is a duplicate of Mastcam 34 except for the lens. Each includes refractive optics, a focus mechanism, a filter wheel, a charge-coupled device (CCD) sensor and associated electronics. The only external indication of which camera is which is that the front baffle opening for the Mastcam 100 is smaller than the front baffle opening of the Mastcam 34.

The Mars Science Laboratory mission is in assembly and testing for launch in autumn 2011 and delivering a rover named Curiosity to Mars in summer 2012.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems
Sample Image Through Camera Built for Next Mars RoverFull Size Image
Malin Space Science Systems, San Diego, delivered the two cameras for the Mast Camera (Mastcam) instrument of NASA Mars Science Laboratory rover to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., in March 2011. The two cameras are identical except for each having a different focal length. During post-transportation instrument checkout in a cleanroom at JPL, the 34-millimeter focal length camera, called Mastcam 34, was used to take this picture of Mastcam Principal Investigator Michael Malin and a test target derived from the "1951 U. S. Air Force Resolution Chart." The test target can be used to determine the spatial resolution of the camera as a function of contrast, a standardized test to demonstrate that the camera is functioning properly and that the optics have not experienced any change during transport to JPL. In this image, the camera is demonstrating a resolution of about 4.5 line pairs per millimeter (9 pixels per millimeter, or about 111 micrometers per pixel) at a distance of 2 meters (6.6 feet).

The other camera delivered for the Mastcam instrument has a 100-millimeter focal length for telephoto capability. The Mars Science Laboratory mission is in assembly and testing for launch in autumn 2011 and delivering a rover named Curiosity to Mars in summer 2012.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems

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