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Remote Sensing

Mars from above and on the ground: Malin cameras take us exploring

Three of Curiosity's cameras from this small San Diego company are the latest of its devices to travel our solar system.
21 September 2012, SPIE Newsroom. DOI: 10.1117/2.3201209.02

Established in 1990, Malin Space Science Systems (MSSS, San Diego, California) designs, builds, and operates space camera systems for government and commercial aerospace customers.

MSSS has produced visible and ultraviolet cameras for the Mars Global Surveyor (1996), Mars Climate Orbiter (1998), Mars Polar Lander (1999), Mars Odyssey (2001), Cosmos 1 (2005), Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (2005), Mars Scout Phoenix (2007), Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (2009), a classified U.S. spacecraft, the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) rover (2011), and the Juno mission to Jupiter (2011, to arrive in 2016).

Three of the cameras on MSL's Curiosity rover, which landed 5 August 2012 on Mars, were built by MSSS. These include the Mars Descent Imager (MARDI), Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI), and the MastCam.

MSSS space science research products have largely focused on the geology, geomorphology, and meteorology of Mars. MSSS scientists have also participated in spacecraft missions to other bodies in our Solar System as principal investigators, co-investigators, and collaborators. MSSS scientists have also studied and have research backgrounds in various aspects of Mercury, Venus, Earth, the Moon, asteroids, and outer planet satellites and rings.

Michael Ravine, featured in this video, is Advanced Projects Manager at MSSS. He received his PhD in Geophysics (1997) from the Scripps Institute of Oceanography, MS (1984) from Brown University in Geology, and BS from Caltech (1982) in Physics. His research interests include earth mantle viscosity and dynamics; geodynamics; impact cratering; and spaceflight instrumentation.