NASA’s Rover Persistence will look at Mars with these eyes

US, WASHINGTON (ORDO NEWS) — When it starts this summer, NASA’s Persistence rover will receive the most advanced pair of “eyes” ever sent to the surface of the Red Planet. His Mastcam-Z tool has the ability to scale the next generation, which will help the mission to make three-dimensional images.

Rover operators who carefully plan each movement route and each movement of the robotic rover arm will be able to view these stereo images with 3D glasses to see the volume of the terrain.

The Mastcam-Z tool (Z stands for “zoom”) located on the “head” of the Perseverance Mars rover is a more advanced version of the Mastcam camera used on the NASA Curiosity rover. The main difference is that there is no way to zoom in on Mastcam Curiosity cameras.

The Mastcam for Curiosity was originally designed with the ability to scale, but at that time it was difficult to achieve with such a small tool (Curiosity was launched in 2011).

“It was originally planned that Curiosity would have a zoom camera that could have a very wide viewing angle,” said Jim Bell, Mastcam-Z’s chief specialist and deputy chief camera researcher at Mastcam. “It would be an amazing panoramic perspective, but at that time it was really difficult to build.”

Instead, the Mastcam on Curiosity has one telescopic and one wide-angle lens. Images can be combined to create a stereo image. But a wide-angle lens captures a much larger area at a time than a telescopic one; up to nine telescopic shots will be required to combine the shots.

Perseverance’s Mastcam-Z simplifies the task by scaling both lenses to match, and can immediately be used to create a single 3D image. This is simpler and requires less images and less data to be sent to Earth.

Mastcam-Z will also provide “superhuman vision” by viewing the landscape at various wavelengths of light, including those that cannot be detected by the human eye. For example, scanning the area in the ultraviolet or infrared range can reveal metallic meteorites dotting the surface, or color changes indicating compositions that require more detailed analysis using other tools.

“The Mastcam-Z is not a spectrometer, but it can provide useful hints for other instruments,” Bell said.

The camera system can also observe the Sun and the sky, observe the transit of the moons of Mars in front of the Sun, and also measure how dust storms and cloud formations change over the seasons.

Mars rover “Persistence” – a robot scientist weighing about 1025 kg. The rover’s astrobiological mission is to look for signs of past microbial life. He will study the climate and geology of the planet, collect samples for their future return to Earth, and also pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet. No matter what day the rover will be launched during July 17 – August 5, it will land in the Jezero Crater on Mars on February 18, 2021.

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