Space is a bad place for things to go wrong, so when several new cameras were added to the Mars 2020 rover, NASA put a bit of effort into making sure they were seeing clearly.
“We tested every camera on the front of the rover chassis and also those mounted on the mast,” says chief engineer Justin Maki. “Characterising the geometric alignment of all these imagers is important for driving the vehicle on Mars, operating the robotic arm and accurately targeting the rover’s laser.”
The team is pictured at work in the Spacecraft Assembly Facility’s High Bay 1 at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
To perform the calibration, they imaged target boards that feature grids of dots, placed at distances ranging from one to 40 metre away. The boards were used to confirm that the cameras meet the project’s requirements for resolution and geometric accuracy.
In the coming weeks, the imagers on the back of the rover body and on the turret at the end of the rover’s arm will undergo similar calibration.
The rover contains an armada of imaging capabilities, from wide-angle landscape cameras to narrow-angle high-resolution zoom lens cameras.