“We developed Mastcam-Z for a rover going to a spot on Mars that hadn’t been selected yet, so we had to design it with all the possibilities in mind—the optimal set of eyes to capture the geology of any spot on Mars,” says Melissa Rice, a planetary scientist at Western Washington University and coinvestigator on Mastcam-Z.
Close-up, Mastcam-Z can see details about 1 millimeter across; from 100 meters out, it’ll pick up a feature just 4 centimeters wide. That’s better than you and me. It also sees color better—or, rather, “multispectrally,” capturing the broadband visible spectrum that human people are used to, but also about a dozen narrow-band not-quite-colors. (Rice co-wrote a very good geek-out about all this stuff.)