Phoenix robotic arm camera

H. U. Keller, W. Goetz, H. Hartwig, S. F. Hviid, R. Kramm, W. J. Markiewicz, R. Reynolds, C. Shinohara, P. Smith, R. Tanner, P. Woida, R. Woida, B. J. Bos, M. T. Lemmon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


The Phoenix Robotic Arm Camera (RAC) is a variable-focus color camera mounted to the Robotic Arm (RA) of the Phoenix Mars Lander. It is designed to acquire both close-up images of the Martian surface and microscopic images (down to a scale of 23 μm/pixel) of material collected in the RA scoop. The mounting position at the end of the Robotic Arm allows the RAC to be actively positioned for imaging of targets not easily seen by the Stereo Surface Imager (SSI), such as excavated trench walls and targets under the Lander structure. Color information is acquired by. illuminating the target with red, green, and blue light-emitting diodes. Digital terrain models (DTM) can be generated from RAC images acquired from different view points. This can provide high-resolution stereo information about fine details of the trench walls. The large stereo baseline possible with the arm can also provide a far-field DTM. The primary science objectives of the RAC are the search for subsurface soil/ice layering at the landing site and the characterization of scoop samples prior to delivery to other instruments on board Phoenix. The RAC shall also provide low-resolution panoramas in support of SSI activities and acquire images of the Lander deck for instrument and Lander check out. The camera design was inherited from the unsuccessful Mars Polar Lander mission (1999) and further developed for the (canceled) Mars Surveyor 2001 Lander (MSLOl). Extensive testing and partial recalibration qualified the MSLOl RAC flight model for integration into the Phoenix science payload.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberE00A17
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research E: Planets
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 20 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Forestry
  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Palaeontology


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