Follow this link to skip to                                      the main content

Spacecraft and Instruments

Text Size

Robotic Arm Camera
built by the University of Arizona and Max Planck Institute, Germany
The Robotic Arm Camera (RAC) is attached to the Robotic Arm (RA) just above the scoop. The instrument provides close-up, full-color images of (1) the martian surface in the vicinity of the lander, (2) prospective soil and water ice samples in the trench dug by the RA, (3) verification of collected samples in the scoop prior to analysis by the Microscopy, Electrochemistry, and Conductivity Analyzer and Thermal and Evolved Gas Analyzer instruments, and (4) the floor and side-walls of the trench to examine fine-scale texturing and layering.

robotic arm camera Image right: Built for the Mars Surveyor 2001 Lander, the RAC provides close-up images of soil and water-ice samples. Image credit: NASA/JPL.
+ Higher resolution JPEG (300Kb)

By examining the color and grain size of scoop samples, scientists will better understand the nature of the soil and water-ice in the trench being dug by the RA. Additionally, floor and side-walls images of the trench may help determine the presence of any fine-scale layering that may result from changes in Martian climate.

The RAC is a box-shaped imager with a double Gauss lens system, commonly found in many 35 mm cameras, and a charged-coupled device similar to those found on many consumer digital cameras. Two lighting assemblies provide illumination of the target area. The upper assembly contains 36 blue, 18 green, and 18 red lamps and the lower assembly contains 16 blue, 8 green, and 8 red lamps. The RAC has two motors: one sets the lens focus from 11 mm to infinity and the other opens and closes a transparent dust cover. The instrument's magnification is 1:1 at closest focus, providing image resolutions of 23 microns per pixel.