The Imaging Source's industrial cameras on Mars...

Published on February 19, 2010 by TIS Marketing.

These images show the use of The Imaging Source industrial cameras as part of the Aberystwyth University PanCam. The Aberystwyth University PanCam is an emulator of the planned PanCam instrument for the ExoMars European Mars rover mission currently planned for launch in 2018. The AU PanCam is designed to be similar enough to the actual PanCam instrument to allow meaningful experimentation with software and procedures that will be used on the real mission. The PanCam emulator consists of two wide-angle cameras (WACs) and one narrow-angle or high-resolution camera (HRC).

The WACs are The Imaging Source monochrome FireWire cameras model DMK 31BF03, with custom-made multi-spectral filter wheels fitted to them. These allow both color imaging (using red, green and blue wideband filters) and geological imaging with a selection of narrowband filters extending into the infrared. The WACs have a field of view of 35 degrees horizontally. The images from the two WACs are combined by software to produce both stereo images and 3D reconstructions of the terrain in front of the rover.

The HRC is a The Imaging Source color zoom FireWire camera model DFK 31BF03-Z2. Normally this camera is set to a field of view of approx. 4.6 degrees horizontally and is used for detailed imaging of rocks and other science targets.

The cameras are mounted on a Directed Perception pan/tilt unit and the whole system is controlled by a computer running Linux onboard the experimental rover. The chassis of the experimental rover is based on a half-scale copy of the current ExoMars design. The rover also has a robotic arm and six wheels that can be steered independently. The rover is used on a simulated Martian landscape within the AU Planetary Analogue Terrain Laboratory (PATLab) to conduct experiments into vision, navigation and intelligent sample identification and acquisition for future planetary missions.

All the photos are the property of the University of Aberystwyth. If you would like to learn more about the project, you can read the press release "ExoMars exhibits self-control in sampling Mars terrain".