NASA’s Mars 2020 rover to be outfitted with 23 ‘eyes’

Ocean McIntyre

November 4th, 2017

Many of the 23 cameras that have been selected for NASA's 2020 rover are improved versions of the cameras on the Curiosity rover - with a few new additions being included as well. Image Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech

Many of the 23 cameras which have been chosen for NASA’s 2020 rover are improved variations of the cameras on the Curiosity rover – with just a few new additions being included as properly. Image Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech

One of the important thing devices that has accompanied each rover since Pathfinder grew to become the primary rover to land on the floor of Mars in 1997 are imagers – cameras. NASA’s latest rover continues this pattern. In addition, it continues the pattern of elevated seen acuity that accompanies the elevated instrument efficiency and improved know-how.

Pathfinder launched with 5 cameras – two on the rover’s mast, and three on the Sojourner lander itself. When the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) rovers Spirit and Opportunity landed on Mars they every had 10 cameras. The Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) Curiosity rover went outfitted with 17 cameras. By comparability, Mars 2020 will launch with 23 cameras – lots of that are excessive definition, excessive decision, and in coloration.

“Camera technology keeps improving,” Justin Maki of JPL, Mars 2020’s imaging scientist and deputy principal investigator of the Mastcam-Z instrument mentioned through a press launch. “Each successive mission is able to utilize these improvements, with better performance and lower cost.”

Many of these 23 cameras are upgrades of the identical sorts cameras on Curiosity however others are model new.

The cameras are separated into three teams: Enhanced Engineering Cameras, Science Cameras, and Descent Imaging Cameras.

Mars 2020 cameras

This picture illustrates a collection of some the 23 cameras on NASA’s 2020 Mars rover. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The Enhanced Engineering Cameras are primarily enhancements to those on Curiosity and include two units every of entrance and rear Hazcams and Navcams in addition to the brand new CacheCam.

The elevated efficiency of the Hazcams and Navcams ought to make it simpler to keep away from hazards, higher goal arm location for the drill and different instruments, in addition to take samples.

The new and improved cameras must also enhance total driving capabilities by offering clearer, sweeping wide-angle panorama pictures wanted for autonomous navigation by the Martian terrain using stereoscopic (Three-D) placement.

Unlike on Curiosity, lots of Mars 2020’s imaging devices are coloration and might see particulars a lot additional. The Navcams can “see” a golf ball from 82 ft (25 meters) away and have a “drive blind” mode to badist in autonomous driving and hazard and impediment avoidance.

“Routinely using 3-D images at high resolution could pay off in a big way,” Jim Bell of Arizona State University, Tempe, principal investigator for 2020’s Mastcam-Z mentioned. “They’re useful for both long-range and near-field science targets.”

The new cameras are improved from Curiosity’s 1-megapixel decision to 20 megapixels, with 5120 × 3840 pixel decision that not requires that many smaller pictures be stitched collectively.

“Our previous Navcams would snap multiple pictures and stitch them together,” mentioned Colin McKinney of JPL, product supply supervisor for the brand new engineering cameras. “With the wider field of view, we get the same perspective in one shot.”

The new CacheCam that’s a part of the Enhanced Engineering Cameras will present microscopic, top-down views of the rock samples which are collected inside the vials previous to being sealed as a part of the sample-return caching system.

The Science Cameras include seven imagers. The first, Mastcam-Z, is just like Curiosity’s Mastcam that gives Three-D stereoscopic pictures, however Mastcam-Z additionally has coloration picture and video in addition to a Three:1 zoom lens. The different improved imager amongst the Science Cameras is the SuperCam Remote Micro-Imager (RMI) which is badogous to Curiosity’s ChemCam. SuperCam will have the ability to make the most of a laser to zap mineral targets smaller than 1 millimeter from greater than 20 ft (7 meters) away. Like ChemCam, the SuperCam will use spectrometers to research the sunshine signatures from the minerals to find out their contents.

The 4 different science cameras embody PIXL, SHERLOC, WATSON, and SkyCam. PIXL is a micro-context digicam utilizing X-ray fluorescence. SHERLOC’s macro imager is utilized in coordination with spectrometers and lasers to get excessive close-up pictures to tell apart textures which will help researchers in understanding how the minerals shaped. WATSON is an imaging instrument almost an identical to the performance of the MAHLI instrument on Curiosity, however higher.

WATSON is situated on a turret mounted on the robotic arm of the rover and could be positioned to not solely have a look at the varied samples on the floor of Mars but in addition to do inspections of different devices, together with of Mars 2020 itself. This, in partnership with Navcam, ought to present a great way to watch the well being of Mars 2020, in addition to having the ability to take some implausible selfies.

Lastly amongst the brand new Science Cameras is the SkyCam. SkyCam, very like its identify implies, is a sky-facing digicam that’s a part of a collection of climate devices that may examine the clouds and ambiance on Mars.

Mars 2020 rover landing technique image credit NASA JPL-Caltech

NASA’s Mars 2020 rover will incorporate a brand new touchdown system. Image Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech

The seven Descent Imaging Cameras will present the spacecraft with 4 views together with look-up cameras from the descent stage which is able to file pictures and video of a parachute deploying and inflating on one other planet for the primary time.

Along with the look-up cameras, the descent stage could have look-down cameras to view the rover from above, whereas the rover could have look-up cameras to see how the descent stage is working as it’s lowered from the sky crane. The rover may even have a downward trying digicam to view the bottom because it approaches.

The Descent Imaging Cameras ought to present the first-ever front-row seat to a Mars touchdown.

In addition to the elevated efficiency functionality, the Mars 2020’s cameras are additionally extremely mild, weighing lower than one pound (<425 grams). The imaging techniques have additionally gotten so much smarter, with the aptitude of picture compression being performed immediately within the cameras moderately than on the onboard pc.

The touchdown of the Mars 2020 rover received’t be with out issue nonetheless. More information means extra information to switch which might be a problem even with present capabilities.

“The limiting factor in most imaging systems is the telecommunications link,” Maki mentioned. “Cameras are capable of acquiring much more data than can be sent back to Earth.”

The new information will should be transferred from the floor to orbiting satellites to be relayed to the Deep Space Network (DSN) on Earth, one thing that was pioneered with the MER Spirit and Opportunity rovers utilizing Mars Odyssey as a relay.

“We were expecting to do that mission on just tens of megabits each Mars day, or sol,” mentioned Bell. “When we got that first Odyssey overflight, and we had about 100 megabits per sol, we realized it was a whole new ballgame.”

The variety of satellites able to doing that information switch received’t be growing, whereas the variety of spacecraft on the floor will. By the time Mars 2020 lands, the InSight lander must also be on the floor needing to switch information again to Earth, as properly.

This might tax an growing older and already busy community of spacecraft. Currently, the one satellites able to transferring information from the floor and relaying it to the DSN are Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), MAVEN, and the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Trace Gas Orbiter, however NASA appears badured that the trio of satellites will have the ability to badist the brand new rover in its first two years on the Martian floor.

 

 

Tagged: Jet Propulsion Laboratory Mars Mars 2020 NASA The Range

Ocean McIntyre

A local of the Greater Los Angeles space, Ocean McIntyre’s writing is targeted totally on science (STEM and STEAM) schooling and public outreach. McIntyre is a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambbadador in addition to holding memberships with The Planetary Society, Los Angeles Astronomical Society, and is a founding member of SafePlaceForSpace.org. McIntyre is presently finding out astrophysics and planetary science with further pursuits in astrobiology, cosmology and directed vitality propulsion know-how. With SpaceFlight Insider in search of to increase the quantity of science articles it produces, McIntyre was a welcomed addition to our rising staff.


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