Thales Alenia Space Cameras for Exomars 2020 Rover to Take Shots of the Martian Surface

Upcoming mission reflects the company's unrivaled expertise in optics & electronics

Thales Alenia Space, the joint venture between Thales (67%) and Leonardo (33%), is presenting cameras developed by its Swiss subsidiary for the ExoMars 2020 program: two wide angle cameras (WAC) and the close-up imager (CLUPI).

The two wide angle cameras (WAC), developed by Thales Alenia Space in Switzerland as prime contractor, will be directly integrated in PanCam (The Panoramic Camera provided by European labs and universities), one of the instruments mounted on the ExoMars 2020 rover. PanCam will deliver images in the visible and near infrared wavelengths.

The PanCam instrument, fitted with 12 filters, will be installed on the rover’s mast. It will provide multispectral stereo images over a field of view of 38.3° (horizontal/vertical). The camera faces a daunting design challenge because of the wide range of temperatures it will experience, from - 130°C (in survival mode) in the Martian environment, to +110°C because of the need for biological sterilization to protect the planet.

The close-up imager (CLUPI) will be mounted directly on the drill arm, to provide close-up images of the Martian terrain, including surrounding rocks, soil and cliffs. It can focus at distances from 11.5 centimeters to infinity. This camera also features a focus stacking function, which entails combining several images with different focal planes depending on the distance, to transmit an image offering greater depth of field. The CMOS (Complementary metal-oxidesemiconductor) photographic detector offers resolution of 2652 pixels x 1768 pixels.

This productive collaboration between industry and academia was made possible thanks to ESA’s scientific experiment development program, PRODEX (Programme de Développement d'Expériences scientifiques).

Based in Zurich, Thales Alenia Space in Switzerland is specialized in the engineering and production of complex and innovative instruments for scientific and Earth observation satellites, as well as spaceborne optical communications terminals.

Through the design and construction of these two types of cameras, Thales Alenia Space once again proves its ability to develop highly specialized and sophisticated instruments. Thales Alenia Space in Switzerland has contributed to a number of European space missions, for example by developing the telescope for the CaSSIS instrument on ExoMars, the receiver for the laser altimeter on BepiColombo, and electronics for the inertial sensor on LISA Path Finder.

Source: Thales
Date: Aug 20, 2019