If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, the next NASA rover will see even more gorgeous sights on Mars. The future rover will have 23 “eyes” that will allow it to insure the Red Planet like never before.
NASA’s Mars 2020 mission will build on the tech already used in NASA’s Curiosity, which has 17 cameras at its disposal. Each camera in the new rover will have a higher resolve, colour, and wider field of view compared to those used by its predecessor.
Mars 2020 will have nine engineering cameras, seven scientific ones, and seven cameras that monitor the entry, descent, and landing. The rover will be built at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory( JPL) in Pasadena, California, and will launch in 2020.
“Camera technology holds improving, ” Justin Maki of JPL, Mars 2020 ‘s imaging scientist, said in a statement. “Each successive mission is able to utilize these improvements, with better performance and lower cost.”
Notable advancements include changes to the engineering cameras that will help the rovers work up where to run( Navcams) and how to avoid hazards( Hazcam ). Curiosity, Spirit, and Opportunity all have these, producing black-and-white 1-megapixel images. Mars 2020 ‘s cameras will be snapping 20 -megapixel color photos.
“Our previous Navcams would snap multiple pictures and sew them together, ” said Colin McKinney of JPL, product delivery administrator for the new engineering cameras. “With the wider field of view, we get the same perspective in one shot.”
Changes are also coming to the main imaging cameras, which are dubbed Mastcam-Z. They will have more colouring and better 3-D imaging abilities compared to Curiosity’s MASTCAM. They will also have a 3:1 zoom lens( that’s the Z in the name ).
“Routinely utilizing 3-D images at high solving could pay off in a big style, ” said Jim Bell of Arizona State University, Tempe, principal investigator for 2020 ‘s Mastcam-Z. “They’re useful for both long-range and near-field science targets.”
The mission will also have a first-time position of a parachute opening on another planet. The mission will have entry, descent, and landing cameras that will be able to movie the delicate final the stages of getting to Mars, as well as help the onboard system work up where to land.
The last important thing to sort out is how to get those amazing images back. Thankfully, rovers have gotten better and better at compressing big files, while NASA has decades of experience in using orbiters, like MAVEN or Mars Odyssey, as relays to rapidly( or as quickly as is practicable) downlink the files collected on the ground.