Nothing is going to sneak up on NASA’s next Mars rover, because it’s going to have 23 sets of eyes.
The Mars 2020 mission rover will have 23 cameras of various types that will be bigger and better than NASA’s previous four rovers.
The first, Sojourner, which was part of the Mars Pathfinder mission in 1997, had only three cameras rolling around. The two rovers Spirit and Opportunity had 10 each while the most recent, Curiosity, has 17.
“Camera technology keeps improving,” said Justin Maki with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which is managing the mission.”Each successive mission is able to utilize these improvements, with better performance and lower cost.”
The new rover’s imaging technology will offer some firsts for NASA.
When the vehicle descends to the surface, NASA hopes to get its first view of the parachute deployment. Within the rover will be a camera to study collected samples that will be in storage until a future mission’s retrieval.
Also, the main camera of the rover, the Mastcam-Z, will be able to support more 3-D images, and zoom in to capture with fine detail the surface of Mars from a football field away.
“Routinely using 3-D images at high resolution could pay off in a big way,” Bell said. “They’re useful for both long-range and near-field science targets.”
The folks back at home might remember that a good number of images from Mars from previous missions were in black and white, and also presented in disjointed panoramics as the images had to be stitched together.
The new cameras will have a wider field of vision and be in color.
Also, the rover won’t have to stop and take photos as corrective motion blur technology will allow imagery to be taken while on the move.
The new cameras will also be taking these high-resolution images that are 20 times more detailed than any from Spirit, Opportunity and Curiosity.
The increased data, though, won’t be a problem, according to NASA, and it plans on relaying the imagery for the first two years of the mission through two existing Mars orbiting satellites: the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, MAVEN, and the European Space Agency’s Trace Gas Orbiter.
The Mars 2020 mission is slated to launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in July or August of 2020 to take advantage of Mars and Earth’s relative proximity as opposed to other times of the year. The reduced distance will save on costs. The launch on board a United Launch Alliance Atlas V -541 will put the Mars 2020 space vehicle on its way to the fourth planet from the sun for arrival in February 2021.
Similar to how Curiosity made it onto the surface, an aeroshell, parachute, descent vehicle and skycrane structure will bring the rover down to Mars.
The rover’s four scientific missions are to 1. determine whether life ever existed on Mars, 2. characterize the climate of Mars, 3. characterize the geology of Mars and 4. prepare for human exploration.
The rover is being badembled at the JPL in Pasadena, California and will eventually make its way to Kennedy Space Center before its launch from Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
The rover is slated to explore for at least one Mars orbit of the sun, which is just under two Earth years, or 687 days.
More information about the Mars 2020 mission is at https://mars.nasa.gov/mars2020/
[email protected], 407-420-5134