Giga-Pixels to explore Mars

My dreams of high-definition astrophotography have already been realized by NASA’s Curiosity rover.

The rover took over 900 images using the rover’s mastcam.  The Mastcam can take high-definition video at 10 frames per second.  There are actually two cameras on the mast.

The telephoto Mastcam, or “Mastcam 100” has a 100-millimeter focal-length, f/10 lens with a 5.1° square field of view that provides enough resolution to distinguish a basketball from a football at a distance of seven football fields, or to read “ONE CENT” on a penny on the ground beside the rover.

Its other camera is the “Mastcam 34” and has a 34 mm, f/8 lens with a 15° square field of view.

Both of the cameras take 1200 x 1200 pixel (1.4 Megapixel) images using a 1600 by 1200 CCD detector. But each pixel of the CCD detectors are different size. Both cameras can acquire high definition 720p video at 10 frames per second.

The images where then were painstakingly stitched together to produce the first billion plus pixel view of the surface of Mars.  The 1.3 Gigapixel 360 degree image is available for everyone to view with pan and zoom here. If that is too much for you to handle, a scaled down version is available for download here.

“It gives a sense of place and really shows off the cameras’ capabilities,” said Bob Deen of the Multi-Mission Image Processing Laboratory at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. “You can see the context and also zoom in to see very fine details.”

The CCD camera that I currently use takes 8.3 Megapixel images, so I could possible stitch together something similar, but I don’t think I have the same zest for doing it like this all sky photo.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +