The Mast, Engineering Cameras, Navigation, and Hazard Avoidance
The Curiosity mission navigates Mars using a combination of human and artificial intelligence. Both methods rely upon a suite of engineering cameras for situational awareness. The twelve engineering cameras are in six pairs: two redundant pairs each of Navcams, front Hazcams, and rear Hazcams. A remote sensing mast lifts the four Navcams nearly two meters above the Martian surface, while the eight Hazcams are mounted at belly height, four facing forward and four to the rear. The Hazcams and Navcams are flight spares or build-to-print copies of the engineering cameras of the same names on the Mars Exploration Rovers; this not only saved money in hardware, but made it significantly easier to use a modified version of the same rover driving software for Curiosity as for Spirit and Opportunity. The mast also carries the Mastcams and parts of the ChemCam and REMS instruments. Both Navcams and Hazcams are routinely used to gather data for environmental science purposes.
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