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Mars 2020 Mission Rover Will Have 23 20-Megapixel ‘Eyes’

Mars 2020 Mission Rover Will Have 23 20-Megapixel ‘Eyes’

Cameras have become so ubiquitous at this point that taking photos is now second nature for anybody with access to a smartphone and sunsets. NASA’s new Mars 2020 Mission rover is no exception to that trend, apparently, as it will boast 23 20-megapixel cameras able to take wide field-of-view, high resolution, color images. Which means in a few years, we’re going to be getting much crisper, more vibrant images of the Martian surface. Plus way better rover selfies.

First of all, if you haven’t looked into NASA’s Mars 2020 Mission, do yourself a favor and watch Veritasium’s eight-minute video on the subject. Host Derek Muller does a great job breaking down the mission’s core goal of testing for life on the Red Planet, as well as some of the instruments that will be used to try and find it.

As for the updated camera specs, they’re going to allow the rover to send back much improved images of Mars, which should blow the old images out of the water–which exists in liquid form on the surface of Mars! There are 23 cameras in total, with several allotted for science, engineering, and entry and landing respectively. At 20 megapixels, they dwarf the resolution of previous generation cameras, which topped out at a relatively paltry 2.1 megapixels. For reference the new iPhone X has a 12-megapixel rear-facing camera (here’s a great picture showing the difference in resolution). Plus they’ll also excel at stereoscopic 3-D imagining, which should help the rover locate potential samples and geologic features from long distances.

Curiosity rover selfie.

Aside from the new “eyes,” this rover will be quite similar to the Curiosity rover, which was launched in 2011 and landed on Mars in 2012. NASA has noted that in order “To keep mission costs and risks as low as possible, the Mars 2020 design is based on NASA’s successful Mars Science Laboratory mission architecture, including its Curiosity rover and proven landing system.”

The new cameras will still provide some serious eye candy though. One of the designers of one of the rover’s “Mastcams,” Jim Bell, said in NASA’s press release that “‘Routinely using 3-D images at high resolution could pay off in a big way.'” He added, “They’re useful for both long-range and near-field science targets.” Which again, will all be about finding past or present traces of life. Plus, we’ll probably get a brand new shot of Mar’s blue sunset.

Blue sunset on Mars.

What do you think about this new 23-eyed Martian rover? Are you excited to see it send back high-resolution images, or are you more excited for what SpaceX has planned? Give us your thoughts in the comments below!

Images: NASA/JPL

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