About Mastcam-Z

Mastcam-Z is a dual camera system that can zoom in (hence the "Z" in Mastcam-Z), focus and create 3D pictures and panoramas at a variety of scales. This will allow the Mars 2020 rover to provide a detailed examination of both close and distant objects on Mars.

The two cameras are mounted on the Mars 2020 rover mast at the eye level of a 6-foot-6-inch tall person. They are separated by 9.5 inches to provide stereo vision and they will produce images of color quality similar to that of a consumer digital HD camera (2 megapixels).

The cameras are designed to help other Mars 2020 experiments on the rover by looking at the whole landscape and identifying rocks and soil (regolith) that deserve a closer look by other instruments. They will also spot important rocks for the rover to sample and cache on the surface of Mars, for eventual return (by a future mission) to Earth.

Bell leads the Mastcam-Z team, which includes dozens of scientists, engineers, operations specialists, managers and students at ASU. In addition, the team includes deputy principal investigator Justin Maki of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory; the Planetary Society, which serves as the instrument’s education and public outreach partner; and Malin Space Science Systems, Inc., which is the prime subcontractor for instrument development and uplink operations.

About the Mars 2020 Mission

Mars 2020 will launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida in July of 2020, landing on Mars in February 2021. The mission is expected to last at least one Mars year (687 Earth days). JPL is building and will manage operations of the Mars 2020 rover for the NASA Science Mission Directorate at the agency's headquarters in Washington.

The mission is part of NASA's Mars Exploration Program, a long-term effort of robotic exploration of the Red Planet. The mission addresses high-priority science goals for Mars exploration, including key questions about the potential for life on Mars. The mission also seeks to gather knowledge and to demonstrate technologies that address the challenges of future human expeditions to Mars. These include testing a method for producing oxygen from the Martian atmosphere, identifying other resources (such as subsurface water), improving landing techniques and characterizing weather, dust and other potential environmental conditions that could affect future astronauts living and working on Mars.

Karin Valentine

Media Relations & Marketing manager, School of Earth and Space Exploration

480-965-9345