UA engineers have turned an off-the-shelf digital camera into an imaging device that could be key in the search for life forms on other planets.
The next time a NASA rover blasts off to explore Mars or some other planet, it might be equipped with a new type of “do-it-all” camera developed by an engineering team at the University of Arizona.
The prototype of the “Astrobiological Imager” – described in a research paper featured on the cover of a recent issue of the journal Astrobiology – consists of an off-the-shelf digital point-and-shoot camera with some surprisingly simple modifications. A slightly more sophisticated version, mounted on a rover, could do what even NASA’s latest and greatest Mars rover, Curiosity, can’t: identify, photograph and even analyze patches of soil or rocks from afar and in extreme close-up, all with the same camera. (more…)