Rochester - December 15, 1998 - Eastman Kodak Company digital imaging technology, which played a key role on the Mars Pathfinder Mission Rover, is going back to Mars. This time, Kodak solid-state imaging sensors are on board the Mars Climate Orbiter (MCO), one of the two spacecraft of the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory Mars Surveyor '98 Mission. Launched on December 11 from Cape Canaveral, the Mars Climate Orbiter will focus on gaining a better understanding of Mars' atmosphere and climate history. The MCO science payload includes the Mars Color Imager (MARCI), a camera system that uses two Kodak image sensors.
The MARCI was developed by Malin Space Science Systems, Inc. (MSSS), of San Diego, Calif.. It consists of two separate cameras: a wide-angle (140 deg) field of view system and a medium-angle (8 deg) system. These instruments will acquire multi-spectral images at two resolutions: the wide-angle will cover the entire planet on a periodic basis at one km/pixel, while the medium-angle will image selected areas at 40 m/pixel. The wide-angle system can acquire images in five colors plus two ultraviolet spectral bands, while the higher-resolution medium-angle system can take pictures in eight colors. Each MARCI system uses one Kodak KAI-1001, which is a 1000 by 1000 pixel format sensor.
"The sensors on this Mars mission provide 2.5 times the pixel resolution of the Kodak sensors used on the Sojourner Rover," said Willy Shih, vice president, Eastman Kodak Company, and president, Digital & Applied Imaging. "The MARCI image quality will be dramatically improved over what we saw from Sojourner."
The second Mars Survey '98 Mission spacecraft, the Mars Polar Lander (MPL), will carry another MSSS-developed camera that uses the Kodak KAI-1001 sensor, the Mars Descent Imager (MARDI). The Mars Polar Lander will be launched in January 1999 and is expected to land on Mars in December 1999. MARDI is mounted on the underside of the MPL spacecraft and will acquire a series of black-and-white images as the craft descends through the atmosphere. This camera will begin to capture images at approximately 15,000 feet above the planet's surface and will continue all the way to touchdown.
After the successful launch last week, the Mars Climate Orbiter is scheduled to reach Mars in September 1999. Following aerobraking to put it into a circular orbit and support of Mars Polar Lander operations, MCO will observe Mars for one Martian year (about two Earth years). During this period, MARCI will observe Martian atmospheric processes at a global scale and study details of the interaction of the atmosphere with the surface at a variety of scales in both space and time. Scientists will use the data gathered from this mission to learn about the Earth by comparing it to Mars and to build a comprehensive data set to aid in planning and carrying out future missions.
"Kodak's image sensors were the only ones to feature the combination of a mega pixel device and an electronic shutter design," said Dr. Michael Caplinger of MSSS. "The electronic shutter was particularly critical for the design of these cameras because a mechanical shutter would have added too much weight and complexity." The innovative electronics architecture of MARCI and MARDI uses a digital signal processor to generate clock signals for the Kodak KAI-1001 and to process the resulting digital imagery. In addition to developing these two instruments for Mars Surveyor '98, MSSS is responsible for the camera on the Mars Global Surveyor, currently orbiting Mars.
Mars 98 Reports From Spacer.Com
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