Image sensors enable Curiosity to capture of HD images from Mars

July 31, 2012 // By Paul Buckley
Image sensors from Truesense Imaging will be on board NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) rover Curiosity when the vehicle lands on Mars this weekend. The sensors will capture high definition color images from the surface of the Red Planet.

Curiosity, which is scheduled to land on August 6 2012, is designed to assess whether Mars ever had an environment able to support life by deploying the most advanced set of scientific instruments ever sent to the planet. As part of that instrument suite, all four science cameras on the rover are designed using image sensors from Truesense Imaging to capture high resolution color images of the planet.

“Time and again, image sensors from Truesense Imaging have performed under the most demanding conditions,” said Chris McNiffe, CEO of Truesense Imaging, Inc. “Going to Mars as part of this mission is a testament to the teams who design and manufacture our image sensors, and who make this level of quality and performance available to all of our customers.”

“As with all our spaceflight cameras, these cameras for Curiosity have to take high quality images under very challenging conditions,” said Michael Ravine, Advanced Projects Manager at Malin Space Science Systems. “Based on our past experience with Truesense Imaging CCDs - we’ve used them on eight different deep space cameras before MSL - we knew they would provide the performance and reliability we needed for a multi-year Mars surface mission. We’re looking forward to receiving the first color images of the spectacular Gale Crater landing site.”

Four different cameras on Curiosity use the KAI-2020 Image Sensor to capture high resolution images of Mars during this mission:

The Mars Descent Imager (MARDI) will be active during the rover’s descent, capturing hundreds of natural color images of the planet’s surface to provide an initial visual framework of the landing site for early operations.

The Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) will capture close-up color images of Martian rocks and surface material at a resolution of up to 14.4 μm per pixel – enough to detect an object smaller than the width of a human hair.

The Mast Camera (MastCam), the imaging ‘workhorse’ of the rover, will