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Old 06-12-2017, 05:28 AM
Location: PRC
3,250 posts, read 3,365,783 times
Reputation: 2950


This post is about the Image quality taken by the Pancams on the Martian Rovers.

Using the MER rovers Spirit and Opportunity as examples, the publicity bluurb which is released to get everyone hyped up is really useful. It gives us some kind of idea what quality we should be expecting. Thankfully Cornell University has in the past published what it thinks are the expected image quality we should be expecting from the MER pancams. However, it is such a shame that us citizen and armchair scientists do not get anything like what they promised us. Actually, the PDS does not even provide proper career scientists what they promise either.

Below, it boasts we should get a resolution of 1mm per pixel at 10 feet and focus is from 1.5m to infinity. I am being generous here, has anyone seen any photographs from Mars which have even half this quality?

So, I wonder if anyone could explain to me why the Pancam results being posted from Mars are so different to the designed specs we have evidenced here and it seems were expected by the designers to be achieved too.

This laboratory panorama has this text underneath it. My bolded text.
Panoramic image of the room at Cape Canaveral where the MER rovers were readied for flight, taken with the MER-1 Pancam camera. Image resolution has been reduced by a factor of eight. Click on the red boxes to see those areas at full resolution.
Inset 1
Inset 2
Inset 3
Inset 4 This poster must be a good 20-30 feet away from the camera. Excellent quality.
Inset 5

Pancam panorama 2
Click on the red boxes to see portions of this Pancam panorama at full resolution. The slight speckling you see in some of the images is there because we were running the cameras at high temperatures; that'll be gone at martian temperatures. Now imagine a full martian panorama at this kind of resolution!
Technical specs for the pancam Mission to Mars

Pancam views the surface around the rover, using two high-resolution stereo cameras to complement the rover's navigation cameras. Delivering panoramas of the martian surface with unprecedented detail...
PDF of Pancam technical details

It looks like scientists are supposed to be using these images to conduct science on the Martian landscape.
Pancam's spectacular images will help scientists decide what rocks and soils to analyze in detail, and how to interpret the results. Panoramic imaging also provides information on the surface features of the area around the rover, the distribution and shape of nearby rocks, and the presence of dunes and features carved by ancient waterways. Pancam, working in conjunction with Mini-TES, provides a wealth of information about the surrounding environment. Images taken at various wavelengths will tell scientists about the mineralogical make-up of the martian surface.
f 2.0
43mm focal length
Depth of field 1.5m => infinity
Best focus 3m
< 0.01% distortion

Filter Wheel detail

At this webpage My bolded text.
The mast-mounted cameras on board the Mars Exploration Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, will provide the best view so far of the surface of the Red Planet. ... Their cameras can pan up and down 90-degrees, and look completely around 360-degrees.
The image resolution – equivalent to 20/20 vision for a person standing on the Martian surface – will be three times higher than that recorded by the cameras on the Mars Pathfinder mission in 1997 or the Viking Landers in the mid-1970s.

From 10 feet away, Pancam has a resolution of 1 millimeter per pixel. “It’s Mars like you’ve never seen it before,” says Steven Squyres, Cornell professor of astronomy and principal investigator
If I understand this correctly, focus is not the same thing as compression. Webpages often offer compressed photographs. However,if we are offered full-size images to download then the only thing which makes the image fuzzy will be the size of the pixels as we zoom in more and more.

In that case, if the image is supposed to be in focus from 1.5m onwards, then we should be able to see images in focus to the horizon.

In spite of how much money was spent sending these rovers to Mars to conduct science there, images from the rover Curiosity is no better either. Exactly the same thing has happened and no-one seems to care.
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