Curiosity's Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) investigation

Kenneth S. Edgett, R. Aileen Yingst, Michael A. Ravine, Michael A. Caplinger, Justin N. Maki, F. Tony Ghaemi, Jacob A. Schaffner, James Bell, Laurence J. Edwards, Kenneth E. Herkenhoff, Ezat Heydari, Linda C. Kah, Mark T. Lemmon, Michelle E. Minitti, Timothy S. Olson, Timothy J. Parker, Scott K. Rowland, Juergen Schieber, Robert J. Sullivan, Dawn Y. SumnerPeter C. Thomas, Elsa H. Jensen, John J. Simmonds, Aaron J. Sengstacken, Reg G. Willson, Walter Goetz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

179 Scopus citations


The Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) investigation will use a 2-megapixel color camera with a focusable macro lens aboard the rover, Curiosity, to investigate the stratigraphy and grain-scale texture, structure, mineralogy, and morphology of geologic materials in northwestern Gale crater. Of particular interest is the stratigraphic record of a ∼5 km thick layered rock sequence exposed on the slopes of Aeolis Mons (also known as Mount Sharp). The instrument consists of three parts, a camera head mounted on the turret at the end of a robotic arm, an electronics and data storage assembly located inside the rover body, and a calibration target mounted on the robotic arm shoulder azimuth actuator housing. MAHLI can acquire in-focus images at working distances from ∼2.1 cm to infinity. At the minimum working distance, image pixel scale is ∼14 μm per pixel and very coarse silt grains can be resolved. At the working distance of the Mars Exploration Rover Microscopic Imager cameras aboard Spirit and Opportunity, MAHLI's resolution is comparable at ∼30 μm per pixel. Onboard capabilities include autofocus, auto-exposure, sub-framing, video imaging, Bayer pattern color interpolation, lossy and lossless compression, focus merging of up to 8 focus stack images, white light and longwave ultraviolet (365 nm) illumination of nearby subjects, and 8 gigabytes of non-volatile memory data storage.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)259-317
Number of pages59
JournalSpace Science Reviews
Issue number1-4
StatePublished - Sep 2012


  • Camera
  • Curiosity
  • Gale
  • Mars
  • Rover
  • Sediment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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