Mars Exploration Rover Navigation Camera in-flight calibration

Jason M. Soderblom, James F. Bell, Jeffrey R. Johnson, Jonathan Joseph, Michael J. Wolff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


The Navigation Camera (Navcam) instruments on the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) spacecraft provide support for both tactical operations as well as scientific observations where color information is not necessary: large-scale morphology, atmospheric monitoring including cloud observations and dust devil movies, and context imaging for both the thermal emission spectrometer and the in situ instruments on the Instrument Deployment Device. The Navcams are a panchromatic stereoscopic imaging system built using identical charge-coupled device (CCD) detectors and nearly identical electronics boards as the other cameras on the MER spacecraft. Previous calibration efforts were primarily focused on providing a detailed geometric calibration in line with the principal function of the Navcams, to provide data for the MER navigation team. This paper provides a detailed description of a new Navcam calibration pipeline developed to provide an absolute radiometric calibration that we estimate to have an absolute accuracy of 10% and a relative precision of 2.5%. Our calibration pipeline includes steps to model and remove the bias offset, the dark current charge that accumulates in both the active and readout regions of the CCD, and the shutter smear. It also corrects pixel-to-pixel responsivity variations using flat-field images, and converts from raw instrument-corrected digital number values per second to units of radiance (W m-2 nm-1 sr-1), or to radiance factor (I/F). We also describe here the initial results of two applications where radiance-calibrated Navcam data provide unique information for surface photometric and atmospheric aerosol studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberE06S19
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research E: Planets
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 20 2008
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Oceanography
  • Forestry
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Palaeontology


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