Mars Science Laboratory (MSL)
Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI)

Instrument Description

The Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) camera head.
The knife is 88.9 mm (3.5 inches) long.
Image credit: Malin Space Science Systems

The Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) will be mounted on the turret at the end of the MSL robotic arm. Its purpose is to acquire close-up images of materials on the martian surface—rocks, fines, and frost. It will be used to help characterize the geology of the site investigated by MSL, and it will be used to document the materials being examined by MSL’s geochemical and mineralogical experiments.

The Mars Exploration Rovers (MER), Spirit and Opportunity, each carried a Microscopic Imager (MI). The MI images resulted in a revolution in Mars science, permitting geologists to see martian surface materials at a scale that was not available on previous Mars missions. For the first time, MI images confirmed the presence of sand-sized grains (sand is defined by geologists as grains of 62.5 to 2000 micrometers in size) on Mars. Sand was long suspected but not confirmed to occur on Mars until the 2004 missions acquired MI data. The MI instruments and subsequent high resolution cameras onboard the Phoenix lander have greatly contributed to the understanding of the geology and geologic history of their landing sites on Mars.

The basic characteristics of MAHLI are as follows:

© 2008 by Malin Space Science Systems, Inc.