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Artists Concept of Curiosity  (Source: NASA)
Cameron convinced NASA not to cut the 3D camera from the rover design

2010 is the year of 3D entertainment by all accounts. 3D TVs and Blu-ray players are coming to the marketplace and the consumer market is starting to embrace 3D in the home. 3D films are also hitting theaters in increasing numbers, raising the profile of 3D technology even further.

The biggest film to ever hit 3D and the most successful movie at the box office ever was James Cameron's
Avatar. Avatar broke box office records around the world and the sales of the film on Blu-ray are breaking home entertainment records as well. James Cameron's name is synonymous with 3D today thanks to the success of the Avatar film.

Cameron has now teamed up with NASA to help design a 3D camera that will be placed aboard the next Mars rover dubbed Curiosity. Curiosity is currently slated to launch towards Mars in 2011. Plans for a 3D camera aboard the rover were reportedly scrapped due to budget concerns earlier in the project.

CNET News reports that Cameron stepped in and convinced NASA to include the 3D camera on the rover. CBS News reports that Cameron explained to NASA administrators that a rover with a 3D camera would help people connect with the mission.

The new 3D camera is now being built by Malin Space Science Systems and lists Cameron as a co-investigator in the project. The Curiosity rover has the official name Mars Science Laboratory and it is being sent to Mars to study whether or not the planet has or could support microbial life.

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3d camera
By foursight on 4/30/2010 10:08:07 AM , Rating: 1
This is a good idea to put a video camera onboard. the last two rovers did not have video cameras and just took still pictures. They did not capture the general public's interest as much because of this. They should send rovers to the moons of jupitor and saturn with video cameras too.

RE: 3d camera
By marsbound2024 on 4/30/2010 10:18:05 AM , Rating: 3
It's a lot harder to get rovers onto the surface of world's without an atmosphere because you have to rely on chemical rockets (like hydrazine) to slow them down so they don't crash. With Mars and Titan, you can equip parachutes. The Moon was easier because spacecraft could take a slower trajectory and then use their chemical rockets to soft-land. This isn't near as easy when you have to account for delta-v to other areas in the solar system.

RE: 3d camera
By puckalicious on 4/30/2010 10:36:31 AM , Rating: 2
The mars rovers have used a combination of parachutes, airbags, and thrusters for a controlled impact on the surface.

RE: 3d camera
By CZroe on 4/30/2010 11:17:13 AM , Rating: 3
I don't see where it says "video camera." 3D does not imply video.

RE: 3d camera
By MrTeal on 4/30/2010 11:32:41 AM , Rating: 4
The linked article also implies that it's a still camera, not a video camera. Given the bandwidth limitations they have, I can't imagine a video camera would be particularly useful, 3D or otherwise.

RE: 3d camera
By The0ne on 4/30/2010 1:34:53 PM , Rating: 2
Bandwidth alone won't let it happen :)

RE: 3d camera
By foursight on 4/30/2010 11:42:08 AM , Rating: 2
I hope they dont just use a 3d still image camera. millions of people would like to see the images streamed live as the craft descends to the surface and explores the planet. They did it in 1969 when they went to the moon and generated massive public interest. They should have put a video camera on the probe that landed on Titan, and send rovers with live video cameras to Europa too.

RE: 3d camera
By delphinus100 on 4/30/2010 7:37:41 PM , Rating: 2
They did it in 1969 when they went to the moon and generated massive public interest.

There was live video as the crew exited the LM for the surface, but not on the way down. That was film footage they brought back. We only had audio and news studio simulations for that part.

And it only makes sense, as it would've been difficult to also have a high-gain antenna (necessary even for that medium-res video bandwidth) track Earth during descent.

"Yes, I remember it well..."

They should have put a video camera on the probe that landed on Titan,

Again, not live, but it can be found:

But Huygens wasn't a rover so, not much for video to do, once down.

RE: 3d camera
By Samus on 5/2/2010 2:31:07 AM , Rating: 2
I have a feeling this camera is leaning more in the HDR photography direction instead of being something 'special.'

3D doesn't offer any benifits photographically since the other onboard instruments provide enough data to interpolate depth of field (using sonar/radar, both equiped on previous rovers) and tridirectional servo's to move the lens to any desired position.

I agree though, if they don't equip a video feed this isn't really an improvement. Bandwidth is irrelevent; it doesn't need to be realtime.

RE: 3d camera
By Souka on 4/30/2010 11:48:05 AM , Rating: 2
yeah I noticed that too... it's a still camera, not video folks!

See it for yourself here:

Kinda looks like a SLR with a funky lens attached :)

RE: 3d camera
By foursight on 4/30/2010 12:30:15 PM , Rating: 2
So its a 3d stills camera. Thats just dumb in my opinion. They need to put a video camera onboard with a webcam so that anyone can access it via the web at anytime day and night. Imagine seeing a sunset or sunrise on mars or a dust devil in real time as the rover explores the planet. Better still they could point it to the skies to see earth rise or the martian moons, or event jupitor from mars. They should sent it to the top of the huge extinct volcano or to explore the canyon, or the polar ice caps. Where has the imagination gone? Maybe its time for private companies to take over and charge subscription fees on cable tv.

RE: 3d camera
By B3an on 5/1/2010 5:55:33 PM , Rating: 3
They only thing dumb here is you thinking it's possible to have a live video stream all the way from mars, and get any kind of remotely watchable picture considering the bandwidth limits.

RE: 3d camera
By Redwin on 5/3/2010 10:55:27 AM , Rating: 2
Yes... it does.. twice.

From the linked article (2nd paragraph from the bottom)

NASA's decision to include the 3D Mastcam will give Curiosity the ability to film cinematic sequences of Mars

Also, in more detail, from the (2 links deep) article on the actual camera developer (Malin Space Science Systems) site.
(4th paragraph from the bottom)

"With the zoom Mastcams, we'll be able to take cinematic video sequences in 3D on the surface of Mars. This will give our public engagement Co-Investigator, James Cameron, tools similar to those he used on his recent 3D motion picture projects"

"I f***ing cannot play Halo 2 multiplayer. I cannot do it." -- Bungie Technical Lead Chris Butcher
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