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djellison
http://www.msss.com/press_releases/mslselection/index.html

Some astonishing proposals there - full colour motion descent imagery ohmy.gif

Not sure what use 10fps video is - as even MSL will still crawl along at a slow pace making it very boring viewing smile.gif Notice the HDTV resolution of it though - James Cameron has got involved - should be interesting!

Doug
dot.dk
Nice to see video from MARS! ohmy.gif

Can't wait for MSL! It will use nuckclear power right? Any idea how far this thing can go?

Just so long before 2009 smile.gif
As we wait we will have MRO and Phoenix landers

NASA.. Please don't screw these missions. Way to exciting cool.gif
tedstryk
With the Mars Telcom orbiter in limbo or dead, how do they intend to downlink all this wonderful coverage? MRO?
djellison
QUOTE (tedstryk @ Dec 14 2004, 10:14 PM)
With the Mars Telcom orbiter in limbo or dead, how do they intend to downlink all this wonderful coverage? MRO?

MRO has a huge capacity for downlink - not as much as MTO - but 4Mbit/sec DTE at least - and of course, the Electra UHF payload is designed for a relay between 4kb and 2Mbit/sec - the expected total relay is about 150MBits/day for MRO.

However smile.gif MTO is expected to be able to relay 1.5GBit/sol smile.gif

Doug
tedstryk
Has anyone heard anything lately on the status of MTO?
Sunspot
10:1 zoom.........cool, ive always wondered why they never had the those before. biggrin.gif .....and single colour imaging blink.gif
Sunspot
A little more information on some of the other proposed science intruments:

http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.cfm?release=2004-290

Selected investigations and principal investigators:

-- "Mars Science Laboratory Mast Camera," Michael Malin, Malin Space Science Systems, San Diego, Calif. Mast Camera would perform multi-spectral, stereo imaging at lengths ranging from kilometers to centimeters, and can acquire compressed high-definition video at 10 frames per second without the use of the rover computer.

-- "ChemCam: Laser Induced Remote Sensing for Chemistry and Micro-Imaging," Roger Wiens, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, N.M. ChemCam would ablate surface coatings from materials at standoff distances of up to 10 meters and measure elemental composition of underlying rocks and soils.

-- "Mahli: Mars HandLens Imager for the Mars Science Laboratory," Kenneth Edgett, Malin Space Science Systems. Mahli would image rocks, soil, frost and ice at resolutions 2.4 times better, and with a wider field of view, than the Microscopic Imager on the Mars Exploration Rovers.

-- "The Alpha-Particle-X-ray-Spectrometer for Mars Science Laboratory," Ralf Gellert, Max-Planck-Institute for Chemistry, Mainz, Germany. This instrument would determine elemental abundance of rocks and soil. It will be provided by the Canadian Space Agency.

-- "CheMin: An X-ray Diffraction/X-ray Fluorescence instrument for definitive mineralogical analysis in the Analytical Laboratory of Mars Science Laboratory," David Blake, NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif. CheMin, would identify and quantify all minerals in complex natural samples such as basalts, evaporites and soils, one of the principle objectives of Mars Science Laboratory.

-- "Radiation Assessment Detector," Donald Hassler, Southwest Research Institute, Boulder, Colo. This instrument would characterize the broad spectrum of radiation at the surface of Mars, an essential precursor to human exploration of the planet. The instrument would be funded by the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters.

-- "Mars Descent Imager," Michael Malin, Malin Space Science Systems. The Mars Descent Imager would poduce high-resolution color-video imagery of the descent and landing phase, providing geological context information, as well as allowing for precise landing-site determination.

-- "Sample Analysis at Mars with an integrated suite consisting of a gas chromatograph mass spectrometer, and a tunable laser spectrometer," Paul Mahaffy, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. This instrument would perform mineral and atmospheric analyses, detect a wide range of organic compounds and perform stable isotope analyses of organics and noble gases.
Pando
I'm wondering what the actual CCD pixel resolution is for the MastCam? Yes it has been indicated that it can do 1280x720 HD video, but what is the resolution for stills? I can't believe they will attempt 1280x720 stills with this thing; it's gotta be in the order of 10+ megapixels, right??
djellison
Well - if the hand lends is 2.4 more than the MER MI - and all three are using the same CCD Design - it's 2.4 megapixels - so perhaps not square pixels - but something in the order of 2000 x 1200 pixels - or 1500 square?

Remember - MER launched at a time when 3, 4, 5 megapixel cameras were normal commercial products - and has only 1 smile.gif MSL will launch when 6, 8, 12, meg pixels is normal - so launching with 2-3 is to be expected.

Doug
YesRushGen
QUOTE (dot.dk @ Dec 14 2004, 09:11 PM)
...NASA.. Please don't screw these missions. Way to exciting cool.gif

That's one reason I really wish they were sending TWO MSL's. Since MSL is not using a tried and tested EDL sequence, there is far greater risk.

I mean, the lander just hovering and lowering the rover on a teather??? That sounds crazy to me. (Then of course, so did Pathfinder's EDL sequence in 1997!)
djellison
Two $400M rovers - that's doable on the Mars Exploration budget

Two $800-1000M rovers. That's hardly doable on the ISS budget biggrin.gif

Doug
tedstryk
I don't know....I think if you include the nearly annual overruns, you could send several. I mean, at 1.2 Billion per shuttle mission, that's a rover and a part of another.
YesRushGen
QUOTE (djellison @ Dec 15 2004, 02:10 PM)
Two $400M rovers - that's doable on the Mars Exploration budget

Two $800-1000M rovers. That's hardly doable on the ISS budget biggrin.gif

Doug

LOL. Well, that's true about MSL costing more than the MERs did. Still, the Viking spacecrafts were pretty pricey - and two of those were sent!

As a side note, it seems they could build more clones of MER for pretty cheap.

Now, I know that the MER design is now "obsolete" and that MSL's instrumentation/longevity will far outlast MER. In spite of that, it seems a shame to waste a perfectly good design.

It seems to me that if more MERs were built, each one would be cheaper than the last. The development cost is already done - spent on the initial development of Spirit and Oppy. The "how to operate them" is also done. The lessons of operation have been learned. Just build carbon copies. (Well, maybe plug in different instrumentation)

Let me re-iterate that I'm not arguing for a "MER-only" approach to exploring Mars. I'm simply suggesting that using additional MERs to "augment" the ongoing exploration of Mars would be a good thing.

regards,

Kelly
AlexBlackwell
QUOTE (tedstryk @ Dec 14 2004, 10:14 PM)
With the Mars Telcom orbiter in limbo or dead...

You must have access to some unique information, especially since JPL is deep in the design and subcontracting process for MTO. Indeed, a science definition team (SDT) has already forwarded its recommendation to NASA prioritizing potential areas of interest that could utilize the minor mass allocation for science investigations MTO currently has.
djellison
Good point Alex - when I read his post i thought he meant a failed mission - and not a cancellation. MTO is a go, and a necessity for future landers

Doug
Sunspot
MTO gets a brief mention on the JPL future missions page - but I couldn't find any information on it at http://marsprogram.jpl.nasa.gov/
djellison
http://acquisition.jpl.nasa.gov/rfp/mtodesignstudies/

The JPL Aquisition site is fantastic smile.gif

Doug
AlexBlackwell
QUOTE (Sunspot @ Dec 21 2004, 06:34 PM)
MTO gets a brief mention on the JPL future missions page - but I couldn't find any information on it at http://marsprogram.jpl.nasa.gov/

There isn't a great deal of information on the Web but there is some. Below are a few links:

Request for Proposal
Mars Telecommunications Orbiter (MTO) Flight System
VTD-2672-MTO
http://acquisition.jpl.nasa.gov/rfp/VTD-2672-MTO/default.htm

Mars Telecommunications Orbiter Science Definition Team Report from the Mars Aeronomy Conference, August 18-19, 2004 (3.9 Mb PPT)
http://argyre.colorado.edu/life/aeronomy_w...-sdt-report.ppt

Abstract from the 35th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference
http://www.lpi.usra.edu/meetings/lpsc2004/pdf/1775.pdf
djellison
It's an interesting challenge. 5W and 5KG - but, compared to missions of today - an almost limitless data budget - what would YOU do smile.gif I think some sort of multispectral global imager would be fairly doable - Pushbroom on multiple channels - nIR, G, B, nUV type stuff - or other particular spectral windows that would tell us something interesting - at the km-scale res. HiRISE heritage CCD's to save cash.

Doug
BruceMoomaw
Actually, there's one extremely detailed Web description of MTO at http://acquisition.jpl.nasa.gov/rfp/mtodes...es/exhibit1.pdf (45 pg.), and an 11-page one at http://techreports.jpl.nasa.gov/2003/03-2287.pdf .

As for its science payload: the Science Definition Team report mentioned by Alex goes into considerable detail on what useful things they might be able to cram into that 5 kg, 5 watt, $5 million design limit. The top priorities would seem to be (as expected) a weather-pattern imager (which might be multispectral and include IR wavelengths), along with a follow-up to Mars Odyssey's MARIE radiation environment studies, and a detector of "pickup ions" torn away from Mars' upper atmosphere by the solar wind, to follow up on the studies by Phobos 2 and Mars Express of the rate at which this is causing Mars to lose its air. A multi-channel IR sounder to follow up on MRO's detailed altitude profiles of Mars' weather, and a UV imager to inspect the corona of H and O atoms being expelled from its atmosphere by solar UV, are probably too heavy to squeeze into that tiny weight margin with the other instruments.
DEChengst
QUOTE (djellison @ Dec 15 2004, 08:11 AM)
Well - if the hand lends is 2.4 more than the MER MI - and all three are using the same CCD Design - it's 2.4 megapixels.

The JPL press release also states that MAHLI will have a wider field of view than the MI on MER, so it would need to be more than 2.4 megapixel.
DEChengst
QUOTE (YesRushGen @ Dec 15 2004, 01:37 PM)
That's one reason I really wish they were sending TWO MSL's. Since MSL is not using a tried and tested EDL sequence, there is far greater risk.

There's another reason why it's smart to send at least two rovers. It makes the chance for discovery better. The best evidence for a watery past was provided by Opportunity. Spirit didn't find real evidence until she reached the Columbia hills. If NASA would only have launched Spirit and she would have landed a few kilometers further away from the hills I don't think she would have made it to the hills to find all the rocks altered by water. A site can look great from orbit, but once on the ground it can turn out you just can't get to the evidence.
BruceMoomaw
There are, however, good reasons to think that a single rover of the MSL type (cost considerations aside) can be far more scientifically cost-effective than a single MER could be. For one thing, it can drive vastly farther, sampling more types of geology. For another, MSL will have a precision-targeting landing system to bring it down reliably within 10 km of its landing point -- whereas the big landing ellipses for MER, which had to have survivable landing terrain throughout their areas, ruled out a huge number of extremely interesting scientific spots on Mars.
AlexBlackwell
MSSS is providing more technical information on the three camera they are providing for 2009 MSL.
DEChengst
The MastCam is going to be incredible. The PanCam on MER can be used to create a 22,000 x 4000 pixels panorama. The MastCam CCD will be 1200x1200 pixels. With maximum zoom the FOV will be only 6 degrees. So a full panorama should be 72,000 x 13,000 pixels. That's about 935 Mpixel or 2.8 GB blink.gif It looks like we're all going to need a new PC with several GBs of memory to create those panoramas.
djellison
Well - we'll all have new computers by then anyway smile.gif

Doug
DEChengst
QUOTE (djellison @ Jan 2 2005, 06:34 PM)
Well - we'll all have new computers by then anyway smile.gif

And we will be playing Racing Legends on them wink.gif
DEChengst
They should make the HDTV recording automatic. Have the MastCam at the widest zoom take a picture every second or so. Analyse the image to see if there is a dust devil in it. If there is one use a stereo image to determine where it is. Point the PanCam at it, zoom to the 6 degrees FOV and start making a HDTV movie.
tedstryk
Except that by the time the dust devil had been identified on earth and the command to zoom in on it had been returned to the spacecraft, the dust devil would be long gone.

Ted
DEChengst
QUOTE (tedstryk @ Jan 6 2005, 08:12 PM)
Except that by the time the dust devil had been identified on earth and the command to zoom in on it had been returned to the spacecraft, the dust devil would be long gone.


You missed the word "automatic" tongue.gif With "analyse the image" I mean that the rover itself does the analyses.
slinted
I'm particularily interested in the MastCam using the Kodak KAI-2001CM interline CCD, which has a good writeup by Kodak at : http://www.kodak.com/global/plugins/acroba...001LongSpec.pdf

Some things I picked up from reading this...

This document lists a minimum storage temperature of -55 C, which would mean that some sort of heating would be required to prevent the temps from dropping that low during the night.

The 3 color bayer pattern on the CM model does allow some IR imaging, same as MER, but its efficiency is much lower from 800nm on, only 10% as compared to 30% at 800nm on MER.

There's a ton more info in there, for those who are intersted.
tedstryk
It seems quite difficult to imagine a rover picking such things out automatically. It took much processing of the Pathfinder images before dust devils were identified.
DEChengst
QUOTE (tedstryk @ Jan 7 2005, 09:07 PM)
It seems quite difficult to imagine a rover picking such things out automatically. It took much processing of the Pathfinder images before dust devils were identified.

That all ofcourse depends on the distance to the dust devil. If it's far away and at the resolution limit of the camera it will be hard to spot a dust devil. If it's close it shouldn't be to hard to see that there is a dust devil. It may be more difficult to have a computer recognise it, but if you don't even try to develop such technology you can be sure you'll never catch a dust devil in a movie.
DEChengst
Shortly after the announcment was made that MSSS would supply three camera's for MSL I wrote an email to Michael Ravine with some questions regarding the technical specs of the cameras. It took a while and finally recieved a reply yesterday. All the details are in the three PDF files that appeared on the MSSS website in the meantime, but here is his reply anyway:

QUOTE
MastCam still frames will by 1200 x 1200 pixels.  The exact zoom range
is still the subject of some trade studies, but it be narrower field
than PanCam at the long focal length end of the range (probably by ~3X)
and wider field than PanCam at the short focal length (again, by ~3X).

MAHLI will be able to focus from infinity down to 30 mm, which will
give a resolution of 12.5 microns per pixel.
jamescanvin
QUOTE (Sunspot @ Dec 15 2004, 01:30 AM)
-- "Mars Descent Imager," Michael Malin, Malin Space Science Systems. The Mars Descent Imager would poduce high-resolution color-video imagery of the descent and landing phase, providing geological context information, as well as allowing for precise landing-site determination.


I'm guessing this is going to be on the rover itself as it's using the skycrane EDL method? If so, could this flashy colour video be used on the surface post landing? I guess the big question is can it even focus on objects that close? If so, it could provide some nice close up pictures of the terrain it's crossing.

Another thought: If they mounted one of these on the skycrane we would get the coolest video ever made as the rover is lowered to the surface! ohmy.gif

JC
centsworth_II
"could this flashy colour video be used on the surface post landing?"

There will be video on the rover. I don't know if its the same as the decent video. My guess is no.
djellison
The descent camera will make a movie - and the mastcam can make movies as well

Doug
MiniTES
QUOTE (centsworth_II @ Feb 28 2005, 07:32 AM)
"could this flashy colour video be used on the surface post landing?"

There will be video on the rover. I don't know if its the same as the decent video. My guess is no.

But is the descent imager on the rover or the Skycrane? I'd imagine it's on the rover as it would have an unobstructed view donward.
lyford
Does anyone know the proposed height for the mast of the mast cam? After seeing Meridiani creep along from 2 meters high, it would be nice to have a periscope see out from a higher vantage point....
Some earlier designs seemed to have quite an extendable boom for the cameras, but I can't find any current info. Plenty specs for the camera, but not for the mount....

This one seems to feature an extendable mast:



This one doesn't:
lyford
Well, I found this here.

Looks like the mast is no longer El Super Mast, but only a MER style unit. - And we are limited to 2m again.... Oh well, it was fun while it lasted!
erwan
Seems Batman will be on board?!
lyford
QUOTE (erwan @ Mar 25 2005, 11:15 AM)
Seems Batman will be on board?!
*

Yes. biggrin.gif
The RTG Heat Exchanger looks even cooler (no pun intended) in isometric view:
cIclops
QUOTE (lyford @ Mar 25 2005, 05:40 PM)
Looks like the mast is no longer El Super Mast, but only a MER style unit. - And we are limited to 2m again.... Oh well, it was fun while it lasted!


This drawing was around back in August last year and note that the filename indicates a date of 8 June 2004 ... a lot has happened since then and a lot will happen, it's too early to say what the final design will be.
Mark Rejhon
QUOTE (tedstryk @ Jan 7 2005, 05:07 PM)
It seems quite difficult to imagine a rover picking such things out automatically.  It took much processing of the Pathfinder images before dust devils were identified.
*
Actually, it's easier than you think.

It's Mathematics 101.
(1) Verify rover is stationary (otherwise, don't bother executing motion detect)
(2) Verify camera is stationary (otherwise, don't bother executing motion detect)
(3) Snap picture X
(4) Snap picture X+1 about 0.25 seconds later. (Or you could even do 1 second intervals)
(5) Do simple mathematics of subtracting the corresponding pixels of image X+1 from X
(Optimization: Do this only for every Nth pixel horizontally and vertically, say every 4 or 8 pixels.)
(6) Total up all the differences between the corresponding pixel values between image X+1 from X, from the above step.
(7) If this numeric total SPIKES (either positive or negative bias).... there's motion! Start recording immediately.
(8) If numeric total is pretty close to 0, keep repeating steps 1-7.

With the suggested optimization included, this is easily doable on a slow 10 megahertz radiation-hardened processor, even for 2 megapixel images, processed every 0.25ms, using simplified assembly language. And this still leaves plenty of CPU overhead.

If the motion-detect performance optimization is included, it may miss dust devils smaller than 4 pixels across, but it will catch dust devils bigger than that. (Adjust performance optimizations to suit the needs of the down-clocked radiation-hardened CPU used.)

Noise will affect results, but noise can be measured in advance, and be used as a cutoff value, between motion versus no-motion. (i.e. how far away from zero, before motion is declared and video is automatically recorded)

Memory will definitely need to be big enough to hold two uncompressed images, for doing mathematics with at sufficiently realtime speeds.

MER had more powerful processors than 10Mhz, as I understand it (20 MIPS). Plus, memory was most certainly big enough (Something like 128MB). So assuming MSL has better specs, it is well positioned to almost certainly include automatic motion detection software. Even at its slow speeds, MER definitely has a CPU and RAM powerful enough to do motion detection -- if it weren't for the very slow pancam frame capture rate.

Checking every 4th pixel of a 2 megapixel image (4-step horizontally and vertically) only checks 1/16th of the pixels. You'd only need to watch a scant 90,000 pixels of a 2 megapixel image, to detect motion of objects bigger than 4 pixels. (Variables do apply here like noise, how faint the object is, so the object may need to be bigger to compensate for the faintness and still be above noise threshold, but you engineers get the idea of what I am talking about).

At approximately only 5 instructions per pixel (pixel load from X, pixel load from X+1, subtract the two, add result to an accumulator, increment pixel counter to load from next pixel), required for motion-detection mathematics, that's only 450,000 instructions. Plus a few instructions for end-of-row loop counter, and finally the cutoff value check. Let's be generous and throw in a crazy codebloat of 300%, by programming it in C++ instead of assembly, or waitstates caused by radiation-hardened ECC-type memory, etc. That's 2,000,000 instructions. A 20,000,000 instructions-per-second CPU can easily do the math, the same CPU used in the MER's. (At 0.25 seconds, you've got time to execute 5,000,000 instructions.) You can easily see where I am getting at, the MER hardware have specs capable of doing motion detection - if the cameras were able to capture fast enough.

Experimentation will be needed -- you may need to poll the image at different intervals such as -- every 1 second instead of 0.25 second, because the dust devils may not have moved much in 0.25 seconds. This makes it an even easier load on a CPU -- you'd only need to execute 450,000 instructions once a second -- a CPU load of less than 3%. (Or less than 12% for the 'bloated-code' version). In fact, there might even be enough CPU left to execute simultaneous motion detection algorithms for slow and fast moving objects, so that recording begins more quickly for fast moving objects, but still being able to detect slow moving objects or fainter objects.

Motion detection ain't rocket science -- even a high school graduate can do it.

Heck, even I can do it -- and there's no doubt the professional engineers will definitely do motion detection in MSL. It'd be stupid not to inlcude it, if you've got cameras capable of doing 10fps!

I programmed for an open-source realtime image video processor, at www.dscaler.org so I can vouch for what I am saying here. I'm listed in the 'Authors' credits. Go check it out.
Mark Rejhon
JPL succeeded in a crude form of motion-sensing on the original MER rovers.

DUST DEVIL MOVIE by SPIRIT MER
http://www.nasa.gov/vision/universe/solars...m/mer_main.html

It is low framerate though, but it shows frames of the same dust devil (and its shadow) in motion.

According to article I read about this, they used some kind of an image combination technique, not too different from what I just described above. Similiar "simple mathematics" is used to determine changed pixels. While not exactly the same algorithms as the technique I described above, and this was done on Planet Earth on a series of 21 thumbnails, that even the 'lowly' MER can successfully capture a movie of dust devils - exercised in actual practice!

If MER can successfully capture a dust devil movie, I see no problem for MSL doing it!



These frames were captured 20 seconds apart. Now, imagine this at 10 frames per second from MSL! That'd be something to see.
Bob Shaw
On the identifying dust devils front, perhaps optical identification is a bit of a red herring. Rather than having the cameras staring constantly in the hope of picking up the subtle hints of one starting, why not link the imaging system (however smart it may be) to the meteorological instruments and simply start the intensive optical analyses when the pressure changes start. After all, Pathfinder recorded a fair number of such events purely through the instrumentation...
deglr6328
QUOTE (Bob Shaw @ Apr 23 2005, 09:24 PM)
On the identifying dust devils front, perhaps optical identification is a bit of a red herring. Rather than having the cameras staring constantly in the hope of picking up the subtle hints of one starting, why not link the imaging system (however smart it may be) to the meteorological instruments and simply start the intensive optical analyses when the pressure changes start.  After all, Pathfinder recorded a fair number of such events purely through the instrumentation...
*


It might even be simpler than using meteorological instruments like anemometers etc and then waiting untill a devil is right on top of you. The swirling fine dust in a dust devil is thought to produce (through triboelectric processes) high electrostatic field gradients exceeding thousands of V/m. An electric field measurement device would be ideal. Very simple construction, no moving parts, temperature insensitive, small, very low power consumption, very fast response times and it would be potentially capable of detecting the dust devil from at least a few 10s of meters away giving ample time for imaging.
tedstryk
So did Viking, though unlike Pathfinder it never photographed one (not because they weren't there, but because with the Vikings' slow line scanning camera, a dust devil would be impossible to indentify.
djellison
Once you measure a pressure drop - the devil is 'on' you literally - and then you start taking picture in ...well..which direction ohmy.gif I guess you could have pseudo code like...

if delta-pressure > X over Y seconds then....
point cameras in direction of wind from 1 minute ago ( i.e prevailing downwind )
take movies for 5 minutes

but - far better would simply be to point the camera in a direction - and then when it notices something different in the field of view, start taking pictures - then once the 'difference' in frames is in the middle of the f.o.v., start moving the camera in the direction of travel.

Doug
Phil Stooke
In the case of a rock or a 'ripple' etc., you can make a case that the closer you view it the more you can see. From Navcam to Pancam to MI we see more and more on these targets. But is this true for a dust devil? Up to a point, certainly - it's better to see it from 500 m than 5 km. Recently we have had these 'movies' in which a fair bit of structure is visible.

But I would suggest there's no advantage to getting much closer than that. A big diffuse object is seen better from a distance than close up. So I think a strategy of viewing across a wide area from a good vantage point - e.g. looking west from Larry's Lookout - is the best way to view dust devils. You may see a bit of structure in the nearer ones - though that doesn't teach you much... but you get good stats on occurrence, direction, height, optical depth and so on. Waiting until a rover experiences a wind/pressure signature and then taking images is the worst way to study them. (IMHO)

Phil
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