For a Mars rover, you need a roving eye – and scientists to build it: Alex Hayes, Cornell assistant professor of astronomy, and Rob Sullivan, senior research associate in space sciences, are co-investigators on the Mastcam-Z team, a camera system selected to fly on the Mars 2020 unmanned mission, announced NASA July 31.
Mastcam-Z – much like the PanCam on the Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity – will be the main eyes for the Mars 2020 rover mission. Seven carefully selected instruments will conduct unparalleled investigations on neighboring Red Planet. Mastcam-Z is an advanced camera system with panoramic and stereoscopic imaging capability with the ability to zoom, according to NASA. Aside from helping with navigation, the instrument will examine Martian surface mineralogy. The principal investigator is adjunct Cornell Professor James Bell, now at Arizona State University in Tempe.
Hayes and Sullivan will be involved in preflight development, calibration, in-flight operation and scientific analysis. Among many researchers working on Mastcam-Z, Cornell is the only institution contributing two co-investigators to the Mastcam-Z team.