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Mastcam-Z is the name of the mast-mounted camera system that is equipped with a zoom function on the Mars 2020 rover. Mastcam-Z has cameras that can zoom in, focus, and take 3D pictures and video at high speed to allow detailed examination of distant objects. The principal investigator for the instrument is professor and planetary scientist Jim Bell of the School of Earth and Space Exploration.
The camera is located near the top of rover's mast
it's a camera system
and it has zoom capability
Hence the name Mastcam-Z
The Mars 2020 rover mission is part of NASA's Mars Exploration Program, a long-term effort of robotic exploration of the Red Planet. The Mars 2020 mission addresses high-priority science goals for Mars exploration, including key questions about the potential for life on Mars and to gather knowledge and demonstrate technologies that address the challenges of future human expeditions to Mars. These include testing a method for producing oxygen from the Martian atmosphere, identifying other resources (such as subsurface water), improving landing techniques, and characterizing weather, dust, and other potential environmental conditions that could affect future astronauts living and working on Mars.
The cameras weigh about 8.8 pounds and will produce images of color quality similar to that of a consumer digital camera (2 megapixels). The cameras will help other Mars 2020 experiments on the rover by looking at the whole landscape and identifying rocks and soil (regolith) that deserve a closer look by other instruments. They will also spot important rocks for the rover to sample and store on the surface of Mars. Mastcam-Z's purpose is to take high definition video, panoramic color and 3D images of the Martian surface and features in the atmosphere with a zoom lens to magnify distant targets. It will be mounted on the Mars 2020 rover mast at the eye level of a 6 1/2 foot tall person. The cameras (there will be two) are separated by 9.5 inches to provide stereo vision.
These cameras, with their all-seeing sharp vision, will pick out the best rocks, hunt for places for life, and look for signs of water on Mars.
An "engineering qualification model” (EQM) of Mastcam-Z arrives at ASU and will be tested in the ASU thermal vacuum chamber on the Tempe campus.
Mastcam-Z flight instrument arrives on the ASU Tempe Campus
Mastcam-Z flight instrument is delivered to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Mars 2020 spacecraft launch
Mars 2020 spacecraft lands and the mission lasts at least one Mars year (687 Earth days)
On February 6, 2018, the Mastcam-Z team captured their traditional team photo in an unusual way: with the stereo testbed model of the camera. Just as the real camera will do on Mars, the testbed rotated to multiple positions to gather in the full scene. To produce this panoramic view, the team corrected the images for geometric distortion and assembled them into a mosaic.
From left to right, the pictured team members are: Jim Bell, Justin Maki, Jeffrey Johnson, Mark Lemmon, Ken Edgett, Mike Wolff, Ken Herkenhoff, Samantha Jacob, Ed Cloutis, Andy Winhold, Zach Bailey, Danika Wellington, Nicole Schmitz, Rob Sullivan, Peter Martin, Paul Corlies, Jim Bell, Sarah Fagents, Kristen Paris, Stephanie Holaday, Elsa Jensen, Piluca Caballo Perucha, Ernest Cisneros, Jake Adler, Melissa Rice, Christian Tate, Kjartan Kinch, Darian Dixon, Gerhard Paar, Kathleen Hoza, Jon Proton, Jim Bell, and Mat Kaplan.
Principal Investigator: Jim Bell, Arizona State University
Deputy Principal Investigator: Justin Maki, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Education and Public Outreach Partner: The Planetary Society
Instrument Development: Malin Space Science Systems
What's the latest on the Mastcam-Z team? Check out the Planetary Society Mastcam-Z team blogs.