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ASU Professor Designs Eyes For The Mars Rover

(Courtesy of NASA)
A drawing of the 2020 Mars Rover including the selected technology.

Designs for a future Mars Rover will include technology designed here in the Valley as NASA recently announced the selected technology to be mounted on the Rover planned for 2020.

From 58 proposals, seven were selected, including an advanced camera system developed by ASU professor Jim Bell. The camera technology, called Mastcam-Z, is an upgrade from the Rover Curiosity, which is currently on Mars. Bell describes how the new technology will advance the Rover.

“We have this capability to go from broad, regional panoramic views down to very, very fine scale detail on individual rocks," Bell said.  "And because we have two cameras that are matching each other in terms of the zoom we can do great stereo 3-D  imaging.”

The Mastcam-Z will enhance the viewing of where to drill and move, as the Rover mission is to extract and collect a variety of mineral and atmospheric samples.

The hope is to bring samples back to Earth, as adequate testing can’t be done on Mars. When full research can be done in labs on Earth, Bell suggests it may serve as the last step before sending manned missions to Mars. 

Andrew Bernier was a senior field correspondent at KJZZ from 2014 to 2016.