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Beyond Verses

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

NASA nixes James Cameron Mars 3D camera

James Cameron (right) inspects a mast camera system designed for NASA's Curiosity Mars rover.
(Credit: NASA)
NASA has shelved a special 3D camera system that was developed with filmmaker James Cameron for the $2.4 billion Mars rover Curiosity, which is due to launch later this year.

The zoom mast camera for Curiosity was nixed because there isn't enough time to prepare it for launch in November, according to developer Malin Space Science Systems and NASA.

The system was in the final stages of development, but time ran out. Technical difficulties prevented engineers from delivering it as scheduled last December. The system did not work as well as the fixed focal length cameras now installed on Curiosity, Malin said.

The Fixed Focal Length Mast Camera (Mastcam) has two cameras--a 100-millimeter telephoto lens and a 34-millimeter wide-angle lens.
"While Curiosity won't benefit from the 3D motion imaging that the zooms enable, I'm certain that this technology will play an important role in future missions," Cameron was quoted as saying. "In the meantime, we're certainly going to make the most of our cameras that are working so well on Curiosity right now."

Curiosity's mission is to make observations on Mars and help assess whether the planet could support microbial life.


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