The Mastcam-Z team

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., the prime subcontractor for instrument development.

Malin Space Science Systems, Inc. is, in turn, supported by expertise from their subcontractors at Motiv Space Systems, who worked on the instrument’s zoom, focus, and filter wheel mechanisms; Synopsys Optical Solutions Group, who worked on the optics design; Ghaemi Optical Engineering, who worked on the optics assembly; and Materion Precision Optics, who worked on the filters.

In addition, scientists and engineers from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark have been responsible for the design and testing of the Mastcam-Z calibration targets, which were recently delivered to JPL and will be mounted onto the rover's deck in the next few weeks.

“We first dreamed up the Mastcam-Z cameras more than six years ago when we sent in our proposal to NASA,” Bell said. “Initially the cameras existed only as PowerPoint slides, CAD models and spreadsheets. Then, with this team, the cameras started becoming real, physical objects that we could take real photos with. Now we've reached the next step, delivering them to JPL to be mounted on the rover.”

About the Mars 2020 Mission

Mars 2020 will launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida in July 2020, landing on Mars in Jezero Crater 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