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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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RE: seriously?
By foursight on 4/30/2010 2:42:48 PM , Rating: 2
It is not impossible to send a video recording from mars to earth and play it back when it gets here even if it takes an hour to reach here. Surely, there must be a way to do it.

RE: seriously?
By maven81 on 4/30/2010 3:47:39 PM , Rating: 2
You're right, it would get here, but it would have to be really low res and highly compressed. Think about the distance that signal would have to travel, I'm guessing just to get DVD quality you'd need either a huge dish on Mars, or transmitter with massive amounts of power. A rover isn't going to have either.

RE: seriously?
By MrTeal on 4/30/2010 3:53:59 PM , Rating: 4
Yeah, use really low resolution and frame rates. Even then, without a network of relay stations, you can't transmit constantly since the rover or satellite has to have line of sight to the Earth. For a point of reference, using the Odyssey orbiter as a relay the Spirit rover is capable of 256kbps. The cameras on Spirit have a 1 megapixel resolution, and the images are compressed to about 1 bit/pixel using a very efficient algorithm.

Basically, you could either build a rover to do science missions and share the images with the public once they come in, or say screw the science, let's blow all the bandwidth with a $500M mobile webcam.

RE: seriously?
By icanhascpu on 5/3/2010 9:35:34 PM , Rating: 1
First off I agree with you. Would be silly.

Though you assume incorrectly about how much badwidth is needed. On a webcam a proper algorithm (even an older one; H263) at 240*360 you can get 5-10FPS @ 26kbps. Detail is obviously not going to be crisp, but there is an AWEFUL lot more you can do with compression video, esp video of an area like the surface of Mars than many people think. I frame, motion compensation, dozens of different techniques to make an image better, and h263 is older than half the readers here! If you don't believe me, get on a dialup connection, install Netmeeting, and see how well it works.

H264 does an even better job rendering a higher SnR at the same bit-rates. I'm not saying that they should use it as a webcam, nor am I saying it would be practical, but given even half the bandwidth you're saying (128) you can have a 640*480 image at 5fps with relatively low levels of artifacts.

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