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.
Curated content from the editorial staff at Cosmos Magazine.
Read science facts, not fiction...
There’s never been a more important time to explain the facts, cherish evidence-based knowledge and to showcase the latest scientific, technological and engineering breakthroughs. Cosmos is published by The Royal Institution of Australia, a charity dedicated to connecting people with the world of science. Financial contributions, however big or small, help us provide access to trusted science information at a time when the world needs it most. Please support us by making a donation or purchasing a subscription today.