MAHLI on Mars: lessons learned operating a geoscience camera on a landed payload robotic arm
- 1Planetary Science Institute, Tucson, Arizona, USA
- 2Malin Space Science Systems, San Diego, California, USA
- anow at: Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, USA
Abstract. The Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) is a 2-megapixel, color camera with resolution as high as 13.9 µm pixel−1. MAHLI has operated successfully on the Martian surface for over 1150 Martian days (sols) aboard the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) rover, Curiosity. During that time MAHLI acquired images to support science and science-enabling activities, including rock and outcrop textural analysis; sand characterization to further the understanding of global sand properties and processes; support of other instrument observations; sample extraction site documentation; range-finding for arm and instrument placement; rover hardware and instrument monitoring and safety; terrain assessment; landscape geomorphology; and support of rover robotic arm commissioning. Operation of the instrument has demonstrated that imaging fully illuminated, dust-free targets yields the best results, with complementary information obtained from shadowed images. The light-emitting diodes (LEDs) allow satisfactory night imaging but do not improve daytime shadowed imaging. MAHLI's combination of fine-scale, science-driven resolution, RGB color, the ability to focus over a large range of distances, and relatively large field of view (FOV), have maximized the return of science and science-enabling observations given the MSL mission architecture and constraints.