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Illustrating MastCam Capabilities
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Illustrating MastCam Capabilities

August 7, 2012
This set of views illustrates capabilities of the Mast Camera (MastCam) instrument on the Mars Science Laboratory's Curiosity rover, using a scene on Earth as an example of what MastCam's two cameras can see from different distances. The images show a rock outcrop just south of Green River, Utah, of ancient (Jurassic Period, around 150 Million years old) rocks exposed by erosion of a large amount of sedimentary rock in the area. These images were taken with a consumer camera with a Bayer Filter Array and a pixel size very similar to that of the MastCam, through lenses with the same focal lengths as the MastCams. In all these examples, the term "resolution" is defined as three times the per-pixel scale; that is, it takes three pixels as a minumum to "resolve" a feature. The initial view simulates what the 34-millimeter-focal-length MastCam (M-34) resolves in a rock outcrop from a distance of 120 yards (100 meters). That is the distance between goal posts on a standard America football field. The white boxes in the upper view show the outlines of the two lower, enlarged views, and are about 10 yards (9 meters) across. Features about 3 inches (8 centimeters) across are resolvable in this view.