NASA scraps plan for 3D camera on Mars Rover

Time runs out to get James Cameron-backed camera on Curiosity for 2011 launch

NASA has given up on the hope to build a 3D camera for the next robotic rover that the space agency will send to Mars.

Time simply ran out on efforts to develop the system and get it sufficiently tested before the Mars Science Laboratory rover, which has been dubbed Curiosity, is scheduled to launch later this year.

Movie director James Cameron, of Avatar and Titanic fame, has been helping to build the new camera, which would have both zoom and 3D capabilities.

Cameron has been working with Malin Space Science Systems of San Diego to build what would have been a 3D upgrade to the camera, dubbed Mastcam, already installed on Curiosity.

"With the Mastcam that was installed last year and the rover's other instruments, Curiosity can accomplish its ambitious research goals," Mars Science Laboratory Project Scientist John Grotzinger said in a written statement.

"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," Grotzinger.

Malin Space Science Systems will continue work on the upgraded camera system so it can be used on future missions, according to NASA.

Malin will still have cameras onboard Curiosity for this upcoming mission.

Last April, Malin delivered two cameras that installed on the rover's main mast. The cameras, which are set up for high-definition color video, are designed to take images of the Martian surface surrounding Curiosity, as well as of distant objects.

Cameron's Avatar, which is the highest-grossing movie in history, is widely considered to be the most ambitious 3D film ever produced.

Curiosity is an SUV-sized super rover that will carry cameras, chemistry instruments, environmental sensors and radiation monitors to investigate the Martian surface. All of these instruments are designed to help scientists figure out whether life ever existed on Mars and to prepare to send humans to the Red Planet, NASA says.

The new super rover was scheduled to be sent to Mars in 2009, but its launch has been delayed by funding problems.

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed. Her e-mail address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

Read more about emerging technologies in Computerworld's Emerging Technologies Topic Center.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags hardware systemsNASAEmerging TechnologiesGovernment/Industries

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Sharon Gaudin

Sharon Gaudin

Computerworld (US)
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Bang and Olufsen Beosound Stage - Dolby Atmos Soundbar

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Nakamichi Delta 100 3-Way Hi Fi Speaker System

Learn more >

Sony WF-1000XM3 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

ASUS ROG, ACRONYM partner for Special Edition Zephyrus G14

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit for Nintendo Switch

Learn more >

Philips Sonicare Diamond Clean 9000 Toothbrush

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Teac 7 inch Swivel Screen Portable DVD Player

Learn more >

SunnyBunny Snowflakes 20 LED Solar Powered Fairy String

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?