The 2MP Mastcam from Curiosity rover was developed by Mike Ravine and his team at Malin Space Science Systems. The camera has a 34mm lens, which is equivalent to a 115 mm lens for a 35 mm camera.
Photography nerds are agog at the fact that the main camera on the Mars Curiosity is only a 2 Megapixels, which of course is a lot less powerful that the camera you find on an iPhone.
Digital Photography review has an interview with the designer of the 2 MP camera on the Mars Curiosity rover, Mike Ravine.
‘There’s a popular belief that projects like this are going to be very advanced but there are things that mitigate against that. These designs were proposed in 2004, and you don’t get to propose one specification and then go off and develop something else. 2MP with 8GB of flash [memory] didn’t sound too bad in 2004. But it doesn’t compare well to what you get in an iPhone today.’
Reading the interview is a sobering experience. One gets an appreciation of how difficult it is to design a camera that has to work 140 million miles away from earth, given the extreme limitations of such a distance and the severe environment of Mars.
And the low (by modern standards) pixel count needn’t be a problem, Ravine says, since the Mastcams will produce stitched images from multiple exposures. ‘A mosaic produced from a higher pixel count camera wouldn’t offer huge benefits over what we’ll be getting.’
Read the full article here.