Spectral Imaging for Mars Exploration

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Mars has been the subject of much interest to science for many hundreds of years. For nearly four decades Landers have been sent to investigate the geology of the Martian surface and search for signs of life. Each mission has carried a camera system and these are reviewed. The aim of this thesis was to develop the capabilities of future Mars Lander multispectral camera systems. In 2018 the European Space Agency (ESA) – Roscosmos ExoMars Rover, carrying a Panoramic Camera (PanCam), will be launched to conduct exobiology investigations on the Martian surface. As liquid water is required to sustain life, a new filter set has been developed for the PanCam instrument to detect the hydrated minerals indicative of past liquid water. The scientific and engineering implications of the filter bandwidths have been investigated and the methods and results are presented. In order to allow true colour images and reflectance spectra to be generated from multispectral data sets, and to meet the stringent cleanliness levels required, a new calibration target (the PanCam Calibration Target (PCT)) is being developed. The PCT will be made from stained glass and the manufacturing and characterisation techniques used on the prototype are described. As a functioning prototype of the PanCam instrument is not yet available for testing, an emulator has been developed at Aberystwyth University. The calibration and data processing methods developed using the Aberystwyth University PanCam Emulator (AUPE)
are presented along with the results from field testing in Iceland. The scientific capabilities of Mars Lander multispectral cameras are limited by the number of wave bands they can image. The development, calibration and testing of an innovative hyperspectral camera are described. The Hyperspectral Imaging Wide Angle Camera (HiWac) uses well established technology and so offers improved scientific capabilities for
future Mars missions.
Date of Award2013
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Aberystwyth University
SupervisorDave Langstaff (Supervisor)

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