Optical EngineeringDesign and fabrication of lenses for the color science cameras aboard the Mars Science Laboratory rover
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The NASA Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) rover is the third-generation robotic vehicle planned for Mars exploration, scheduled to land on Mars in 2012. There are 15 cameras on board the rover, 10 of which have engineering functions and 5 of which are designed for scientific investigations. Four of the five science cameras are built by Malin Space Science Systems to acquire color images via an RGB Bayer pattern 1600×1200 pixel charge-coupled device. These cameras are categorized into three types: Mast Camera (Mastcam), of which two different versions will be flown; Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI); and Mars Descent Imager (MARDI). These cameras will investigate Martian geology and geomorphology and provide the first color views of the Martian surface that are identical to the natural color provided by typical consumer digital cameras. The author designed and built the lenses for these MSL science cameras, Mastcam utilizes a 34-mm focal length F/8 and a 100-mm focal length F/10 lens; MAHLI utilizes a lens that varies from a 18.4-mm focal length F/9.8 (close focus) to 21.4-mm focal length F/8.5 (infinity focus); and MARDI utilizes a 9.7-mm focal length F/3 lens. The requirements, design, and performance of these lenses are described.