November 2, 2017, 1:28 pm
NASA said its Mars 2020 mission will have more “eyes” than any rover before it - a grand total of 23, to create sweeping panoramas, reveal obstacles, study the atmosphere and assist science instruments.
They will provide dramatic views during the rover’s descent to Mars and be the first to capture images of a parachute as it opens on another planet.
There will even be a camera inside the rover’s body, which will study samples as they are stored and left on the surface for collection by a future mission, NASA said on Tuesday.
When NASA’s Mars Pathfinder touched down in 1997, it had five cameras. The subsequent Spirit and Opportunity rovers were designed with 10 cameras each, including on their landers. The Curiosity rover has 17 cameras.
“Camera technology keeps improving,” said Justin Maki of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
“Each successive mission is able to utilise these improvements, with better performance and lower cost,” Maki said.
The cameras on 2020 will include more colour and 3-D imaging than on Curiosity, said Jim Bell of Arizona State University.
“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.”