NASA have had to cancel plans to build a 3D camera for the next robotic rover that they will send to Mars. Time was against them and they wouldn't have had enough time to test the device for inclusion on the new ‘curiosity' rover scheduled to launch later this year.
Movie director James Cameron, creator of Titanic and Avatar has been helping them build the new camera, which would have had zoom and 3D capabilities. Cameron has been working with the Malin Space Science Systems of San Diego to build what would have been a 3D upgrade to the camera, nicknamed ‘Mastcam'.
Mars Science Laboratory Project Scientist John Grotzinger said “With the Mastcam that was installed last year and the rover's other instruments, Curiosity can accomplish its ambitious research goals, “The possibility for an upgrade was very much worth pursuing, but time became too short for the levels of testing that would be needed for them to confidently replace the existing cameras.”
Malin Space Science Systems will continue to work on the upgraded camera system so it can be used on future missions, say NASA.
Curiosity is a SUV sized super rover that can carry chemistry instruments, cameras, radiation monitors and environmental sensors to investigate the Martian surface. All of these are used to help scientists figure out if life ever existed on Mars and to prepare to send humans to the red planet.
This new super rover was scheduled to be sent to Mars in 2009, but the launch has been delayed due to funding issues.
KitGuru says: Is there Life On Mars? David Bowie wondered the same thing.