The design of mars lander cameras for Mars Pathfinder, Mars Surveyor '98 and Mars Surveyor '01

Robert O. Reynolds, Peter H. Smith, L. Stephen Bell, H. Uwe Keller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


The Mars Pathfinder, Mars Surveyor '98, and Mars Surveyor '01 lander designs all utilize charged coupled device (CCD)-based cameras to conduct scientific investigations, assist with navigation of surface rovers and/or confirm sample acquisition and delivery by robotic arms (RAs). The extreme temperature and pressure environment of the Martian surface, the vibration and shock experienced during launch and landing, and the tight volume, mass, and power budgets challenge the designer and scientist alike to develop instruments and associated electronics that will function properly to provide the desired data. This paper provides an overview of the optical and mechanical design of two of the camera configurations, as well as a detailed description of the camera electronics. The cameras described are a gimbal-mounted stereo multi-spectral imager with 1 mrad/pixel resolution, and a variable focus robotic arm camera (RAC) capable of 23-μm/pixel resolution and provided with a self-contained three-color illumination system. The electronics, housed in the cameras and in separate enclosures, utilizes such subsystems as Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs) for digital control, VME bus-mapped video memory, and multiplexed stepper motor select/phase driver circuitry.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)63-71
Number of pages9
JournalIEEE Transactions on Instrumentation and Measurement
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2001


  • Camera
  • Charged coupled device (CCD)
  • IMP
  • Mars
  • Mars Pathfinder
  • Mars Surveyor
  • RAC
  • SSI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Instrumentation
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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