NASA's Mars 2020 mission rover has 23 cameras

NASA announced the camera design for the Mars 2020 mission will have more "eyes" than the previous rover. Explorers will bring a total of 23 cameras to create sweeping panoramas, reveal barriers, investigate the atmosphere, and help science instruments exploring on the surface of the planet.

Tinuku NASA's Mars 2020 mission rover has 23 cameras

NASA's Mars 2020 mission features a variety of cameras to provide dramatic views over the surface of Mars. Even one of the cameras in the rover body will study the sample as it is stored and put on the surface to be collected and analyzed by the next mission.

When NASA's Mars Pathfinder landed in 1997 it had five cameras is two on the pole that emerged from the landing gear and three on the Sojourner rover. Since then, the camera technology has been increasingly sophisticated. Photo sensor continues to be improved, the size is getting smaller and the quality increases as in every smartphone.

"Camera technology continues to improve. Every successive mission can take advantage of these improvements, with better performance and lower cost," said Justin Maki of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif., Mars 2020 imaging scientist and deputy principal investigator of the Mastcam-Z instrument.

In the 1980s, JPL developed an active-pixel sensor that uses less power than previous digital camera technologies. The sensor was later commercialized by Photobit Corporation founded by former JPL researcher Eric Fossum.

The camera on Mars 2020 will include more colors and 3-D images. The Mastcam-Z stereoscopic camera supports more ideal 3-D images to investigate geological features and search for potential samples remotely. Features such as soil erosion and texture will be seen in the scope of the soccer field. NASA's Mars 2020 mission rover has 23 cameras

"Routinely using 3-D images with high resolution will increase massively. This is useful for near-term science targets and approaching the field," said Jim Bell of Arizona State University in Tempe and principal investigator for 2020's Mastcam-Z.

High resolution, 20 megapixel color images and lens will have a wider field of view where on mission 2020 will seek to maximize the time spent doing science and collecting samples.

A Snapshot of Some Mars 2020 Cameras:

› Enhanced Engineering Cameras: Color, higher resolution and wider fields of view than Curiosity's engineering cameras.

› Mastcam-Z: An improved version of Curiosity's MASTCAM with a 3:1 zoom lens.

› SuperCam Remote Micro-Imager (RMI): The highest-resolution remote imager will have color, a change from the imager that flew with Curiosity's ChemCam.

› CacheCam: Will watch as rock samples are deposited into the rover's body.

› Entry, descent and landing cameras: Six cameras will record the entry, descent and landing process, providing the first video of a parachute opening on another planet.

› Lander Vision System Camera: Will use computer vision to guide the landing, using a new technology called terrain relative navigation.

› SkyCam: A suite of weather instruments will include a sky-facing camera for studying clouds and the atmosphere.