MSSS Provides Camera for Planetary Society Solar Sail Mission
MALIN SPACE SCIENCE SYSTEMS, INC.
SAN DIEGO, CA 92191-0148
TELEPHONE: (858) 552-2650, EXT. 500
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 6 MARCH 2001
MSSS PROVIDES CAMERA FOR PLANETARY SOCIETY SOLAR SAIL MISSION
Malin Space Science Systems will provide a small camera to monitor the deployment of the solar sail on the Planetary Society's Cosmos-1 mission. This is the first time that an MSSS active pixel sensor camera will fly in space.
"We've built several prototype small cameras using commercially-available CMOS active pixel sensors, but nothing drives you to develop a reliable system like spaceflight", said Dr. Mike Caplinger, senior scientist at MSSS. "We see a number of space applications for cameras like these, from attitude sensing to monitoring deployments and even as science instruments."
The camera is about 6 centimeters square and weighs a little over 100 grams. It has an internal 70 MHz digital signal processor with 256 KB of memory, and uses a 640x480 pixel CMOS sensor from Agilent Technologies (formerly Hewlett-Packard.) Its very wide field of view (110 by 82 degrees) will allow it to see the entire area of a deployed solar sail "blade" on the Cosmos-1 spacecraft, and portions of two more.
A typical scenario for the camera's operation will return a few still images at full resolution, followed by a sequence of one-quarter resolution pictures at about one frame per second, to capture motion during a deployment. "These images will hardly be as spectacular as those from our science cameras", said Dr. Mike Malin, president of MSSS. "They're primarily intended to provide engineering insight into the success of the deployment and subsequent control of the sail blades. But they should be good enough to give a sense of what the view would be like from the spacecraft."
Engineering model of the MSSS camera for Cosmos-1 (a US quarter and Sacajewea dollar shown for scale)
Malin Space Science Systems (MSSS) was established in 1990 to design, develop, and operate instruments to fly on robotic spacecraft. It built and operates the Mars Orbiter Camera on the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft, and provided science instruments for the Mars Surveyor 1998 orbiter and lander, the Mars Surveyor 2001 lander, and the Mars Odyssey orbiter, to be launched in April 2001. The ongoing activities of the company are described at www.msss.com.
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