The MVACS Robotic Arm Camera

H. U. Keller, H. Hartwig, R. Kramm, D. Koschny, W. J. Markiewicz, N. Thomas, M. Fernades, P. H. Smith, R. Reynolds, M. T. Lemmon, J. Weinberg, R. Marcialis, R. Tanner, B. J. Boss, C. Oquest, D. A. Paige

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


The Robotic Arm Camera (RAC) is one of the key instruments newly developed for the Mars Volatiles and Climate Surveyor payload of the Mars Polar Lander. This lightweight instrument employs a front lens with variable focus range and takes images at distances from 11 mm (image scale 1:1) to infinity. Color images with a resolution of better than 50 μm can be obtained to characterize the Martian soil. Spectral information of nearby objects is retrieved through illumination with blue, green, and red lamp sets. The design and performance of the camera are described in relation to the science objectives and operation. The RAC uses the same CCD detector array as the Surface Stereo Imager and shares the readout electronics with this camera. The RAC is mounted at the wrist of the Robotic Arm and can characterize the contents of the scoop, the samples of soil fed to the Thermal Evolved Gas Analyzer, the Martian surface in the vicinity of the lander, and the interior of trenches dug out by the Robotic Arm. It can also be used to take panoramic images and to retrieve stereo information with an effective baseline surpassing that of the Surface Stereo Imager by about a factor of 3.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1999JE001123
Pages (from-to)17609-17621
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Planets
Issue numberE8
StatePublished - Aug 25 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Oceanography


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