The MVACS Surface Stereo Imager on Mars Polar Lander

P. H. Smith, R. Reynolds, J. Weinberg, T. Friedman, M. T. Lemmon, R. Tanner, R. J. Reid, R. L. Marcialis, B. J. Bos, C. Oquest, H. U. Keller, W. J. Markiewicz, R. Kramm, F. Gliem, P. Rueffer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


The Surface Stereo Imager (SSI), a stereoscopic, multispectral camera on the Mars Polar Lander, is described in terms of its capabilities for studying the Martian polar environment. The camera's two eyes, separated by 15.0 cm, provide the camera with range-finding ability. Each eye illuminates half of a single CCD detector with a field of view of 13.8° high by 14.3° wide and has 12 selectable filters between 440 and 1000 nm. The f/18 optics have a large depth of field, and no focusing mechanism is required; a mechanical shutter is avoided by using the frame transfer capability of the 528 x 512 CCD. The resolving power of the camera, 0.975 mrad/pixel, is the same as the Imager for Mars Pathfinder camera, of which it is nearly an exact copy. Specially designed targets are positioned on the Lander; they provide information on the magnetic properties of wind-blown dust, and radiometric standards for calibration. Several experiments beyond the requisite color panorama are described in detail: contour mapping of the local terrain, multispectral imaging of interesting features (possibly with ice or frost in shaded spots) to study local mineralogy, and atmospheric imaging to constrain the properties of the haze and clouds. Eight low-transmission filters are included for imaging the Sun directly at multiple wavelengths to give SSI the ability to measure dust opacity and potentially the water vapor content. This paper is intended to document the functionality and calibration of the SSI as flown on the failed lander.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1999JE001116
Pages (from-to)17589-17607
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Planets
Issue numberE8
StatePublished - Aug 25 2001
Externally publishedYes

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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