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Mars Curiosity Cameras - Your Smartphone Has Far Better Resolution!!

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posted on Aug, 16 2012 @ 09:26 AM
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This really sucks! Do you really believe that NASA stuck to 2004 technology for its Mast cameras on board the Curiosity Rover in 2012? Why just a two-megapixel camera? Was it so difficult to have a higher resolution camera? Well, the reasons given by NASA are:

* To produce images that are small enough in size to permit thousands of images to be stored in Curiosity's on-board memory.

* The cameras in 2004 terms, 2MP wasn't so low-tech as it is now. (That's when the design for the camera was proposed, according to Mike Ravine, camera project manager, Malin Space Science Systems.

* Only 8GB of on-board flash memory, not much considering the rover's planned two year mission on the planet's surface.

* Lack of bandwidth. Curiosity sends data to two satellites currently orbiting Mars - the former Mars Reconnaissance and Mars Odyssey Orbiters - which then transmit data back to Earth, but at a speed of only 128Kbps, which is still quite slow in modern terms.

But what's encouraging is that the The Mast Camera (MastCam) instrument includes a 100-millimeter-focal-length camera called MastCam-100 or M-100, and a 34-millimeter-focal-length camera called the MastCam-34 or M-34. The two cameras of the MastCam are both scientific and natural color imaging systems.

And that's perhaps good news as we'll now get to see Mars in natural color! Or would we? Here's an image taken by the Mastcam:



And here it is with auto color correction:



Now compare the color of these images with Curiosity in the lab:



Is NASA still fudging colors in spite of a natural color cam?


If only they had packed an iPhone: Why the camera on your mobile is better than those on the $2.5 billion Mars Curiosity rover.




When Nasa's Curiosity rover landed on the surface of Mars on monday morning, it almost immediately began transferring back to Earth the first images of the Martian surface. But for its reported $2.5 billion price tag, the images have a little less clarity than you might expect.

Curiosity's cameras have a maximum resolution of two megapixels. For perspective's sake, modern smartphones typically are 8MP or more. The result will be images that are sharper than those of Martian rovers past, yet lack the clarity that would be expected from a snap you take in your local pub.


Oh well, you can't have the cake and eat it too!





Read more: www.dailymail.co.uk...
www.nasa.gov...




posted on Aug, 16 2012 @ 09:38 AM
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As any real photographer will tell you the mp value has very little importance when taking picture.



posted on Aug, 16 2012 @ 09:40 AM
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reply to post by OrionHunterX
 


Well most of their reasons make sense to me. This rover wasn't built in a day, it took years of designing, so you can't expect the current newest technology on there, that's not how it works.

As well, the space and bandwidth limitation makes sense too, why on earth they only provided 8 gigs of memory is beyond me...

But a 2 megapixel camera is what i have in my phone, the one facing me, the rear facing one is 8 megapixels. Let me tell you, there is a massive difference in space consumption between the two. The bandwidth would also be an issue, 128 kbps is pathetic, but we ARE talking about something on Mars.

I know ATS loves to crap on Nasa, but other than the color correction, I don't see much of a conspiracy here, at the time this rover was designed and built, 2 megapixels was top of the line.



posted on Aug, 16 2012 @ 09:42 AM
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reply to post by Xertious
 





As any real photographer will tell you the mp value has very little importance when taking picture.


lol. ok. I'll take a picture of something with my 2 meg camera, then the same photo with the 8 meg camera. If you can't see the difference, well, you will see it so there's no need for a contingency plan.

As for the rover, the issue would be distance. Things far away won't be as detailed, things close up like the shots of the ground we've all see, will be almost identical, to the point that 8megs would make that much of a difference.


+14 more 
posted on Aug, 16 2012 @ 09:42 AM
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Originally posted by OrionHunterX
This really sucks! Do you really believe that NASA stuck to 2004 technology for its Mast cameras on board the Curiosity Rover in 2012? Why just a two-megapixel camera?

Not long ago I helped a friend set up a quarter million dollar observatory. The camera alone cost $13,000. Want to know how many megapixels it had? 1. And it was greyscale, not "one-shot color." Really high quality scientific CCDs are expensive, and their power is in their ability to do science, not necessarily the number of pixels they carry. As long as the pixel sizes are well-matched to the optics, you can always take a panorama shot to make a much higher megapixel final image which has excellent spatial resolution. These cameras also have to be certified to launch on a rocket, fly through space for months, and operate for years without fail. You don't get to take it to the Apple help desk if it malfunctions.



posted on Aug, 16 2012 @ 09:55 AM
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My smartphone can't fly to Mars.



posted on Aug, 16 2012 @ 09:57 AM
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reply to post by phishyblankwaters
 


The different is the size, not the quality of the photo.



posted on Aug, 16 2012 @ 10:00 AM
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Originally posted by SpearMint
My smartphone can't fly to Mars.


There's not an pp for that???


Sorry. I couldn't resist...



posted on Aug, 16 2012 @ 10:05 AM
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Maybe they could just run out to Arizona, Nevada or whatever desert they are using and change out those cameras for you.


In all seriousness, when they shot that sucker into space on it's way to Mars, the technology was just that, but I would have to agree... NASA should have partnered up with the camera companies so they could have had advanced equipment.

I've always known technology to be obsolete by the time it hits the retail market, if you want the good stuff, you have to get it directly from the manufacturer.



posted on Aug, 16 2012 @ 10:08 AM
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reply to post by KnightFire
 


The equipment is advanced.
You do realise what it has to stand up to, from extremes of temperature to cosmic radiation, bumps crashes etc.
If you bought a high end camera, it wouldn't be able to withstand it.



posted on Aug, 16 2012 @ 10:09 AM
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Does your stupid smartphone survive a 50 million mile journey to another planet?



posted on Aug, 16 2012 @ 10:14 AM
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ATS hasn't let me down this time.. everyone is responding logically ..

I personally have no issue with the camera quality for all the reasons mentioned.. auto white balancing probably doesn't work so well due to the martian atmosphere, being hazy and dusty... it's not like it's on earth where cameras are generally designed to operate.. The optics were designed to be rugged and get a job done.. in that, they are perfectly successful



posted on Aug, 16 2012 @ 10:20 AM
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Originally posted by miniatus
ATS hasn't let me down this time.. everyone is responding logically ..

I personally have no issue with the camera quality for all the reasons mentioned.. auto white balancing probably doesn't work so well due to the martian atmosphere, being hazy and dusty... it's not like it's on earth where cameras are generally designed to operate.. The optics were designed to be rugged and get a job done.. in that, they are perfectly successful



Auto white balancing NEVER works well.... it is just good enough for some happy-snappy pics, but that is about it. Real photographers don't use AWB.



posted on Aug, 16 2012 @ 10:27 AM
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Originally posted by Xertious
reply to post by KnightFire
 


The equipment is advanced.
You do realise what it has to stand up to, from extremes of temperature to cosmic radiation, bumps crashes etc.
If you bought a high end camera, it wouldn't be able to withstand it.


I was talking about the quality / technology of the camera, not the durability. Big difference. Any camera can be housed in durable, padded containers that will withstand extreme temperatures / radiation, bumps etc... There is technology within quality of imagery that is in beta testing long before it's marketable, that's what I was referencing.



posted on Aug, 16 2012 @ 10:28 AM
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The cameras on curiosity can apparently resolve an object of 7cm at a distance of 1km, find a smartphone that can do that



posted on Aug, 16 2012 @ 10:33 AM
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Maybe OP, you can show them how to make a better one.



posted on Aug, 16 2012 @ 10:35 AM
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It's all about field of view/angle of view...

The field of view (or "angle of view") for Curriosity's cameras are relatively small -- smaller than an iPhone. So one picture of a small field of view at 2MP is roughly comparable to an high MP camera with a wider field of view. As ngchunter mentioned above, all the camera needs to do is take a mosaic of images, and voila, you get a higher MP final image that compares to consumer cameras.

For example, the angle of view for the rover's MastCam is about 15º. The iPhone or other consumer cameras are about 45º. So it would take three 2MP rover images to fit across an iPhone or consumer camera image. I'm not sure if the math works this easily, but wouldn't that make the rover images comparable to something like a 6MP iPhone image?



There are a lot of other reasons the camera is 2MP. I'm sure I'll miss a few, but here are some of those reasons:

-- Development of these cameras began in 2004. It takes years of development and testing to build a camera that can survive a mars mission.

-- The rate of data transfer between Earth and the Rover is about 250 MB per day. Large image files would limit the amount of other data that Curiosity could send back to earth. It already takes several hours to download the 2MP images that make up a panorama. It would take days to download the 8MP images for that same panorama.

-- While panoramic images do have some scientific value, they are not the primary instrument on the rover. the rover has a suite of scientific instruments that are more important than images. The panoramic camera's main purpose is to find interesting things to study. The camera spots those things, and the rover roves closer to those interesting things so the other instruments can get more data. If they DO want to see a better image of something up close, they just rove over to it and get a close-up image...

...the camera is more for "us folks at home" than it is important to scientists.



Sure -- a higher MP camera would be great if it could be incorporated into an efficiently designed rover, but 2MP does the job, too, and works better with the entire rover system -- including download rates.


edit on 8/16/2012 by Soylent Green Is People because: (no reason given)

edit on 8/16/2012 by Soylent Green Is People because: (no reason given)



posted on Aug, 16 2012 @ 10:41 AM
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reply to post by KnightFire
 


Not really, because the sensor needs to hold up to all this cosmic radiation. The more you shield it the more you degrade the picture. ie thicker lenses more filters = less picture. Also, notice how its in focus and not blurry, take your 8MP smartphone and go off road with it and see what quality of picture you get. Then see how much radiation it can stand, and how shielding will degrade the picture quality.



posted on Aug, 16 2012 @ 11:01 AM
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I think a 2 mp pic is good enough for what they want, i guess they are there to take readings and not high res pretty pictures?



posted on Aug, 16 2012 @ 11:04 AM
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How many times do people with even slight intelligence have to explain to the sheeple on here. Go and look up the tech used instead of looking foolish saying "my smart phone is better!".



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