Astrogeology Science Center

Sol 19 Update on Curiosity from USGS Scientist Ken Herkenhoff: Shooting Stereo

25 August 2012

We've started getting Mastcam characterization data on the ground, and the key focus test data have allowed us to modify the command sequences sent to acquire more characterization data with the focus quality needed to make use of them. It's nice to see my recent efforts paying off, but of course it takes many people working very hard to make it happen. Today we planned a sequence of images intended to determine how well we can measure the topography of the surface far from the rover using "long-baseline stereo." MSL has several pairs of stereo cameras that work very much like human (and other animal) pairs of eyes. Our brains interpret the information from both eyes to tell how far away objects are, and cameras can be used to do the same thing. The distance between our eyes, or the "baseline" between cameras limits the distance at which this method works. The longer the baseline, or the greater the distance between cameras, the better the ability to measure distance. So our plan is to take pictures of Mt. Sharp, many kilometers from the rover, before and after moving the rover about 10 m. In order for this experiment to yield useful results, the camera must be properly focused. So it was good to receive some of the data from the focus test in time to plan this next experiment.

A different song is played at the beginning of each Martian day (sol) as the daily bundle of commands are sent to the rover. I'm not sure who picks the song each day, but this is a tradition that extends back to previous Mars landers. For example, here's a video to go along with today's wake-up song. It's great that people are taking the time to put together such videos, and I hope they are fun for the public

Ken