This page provides some technical details about the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover’s Mastcam-Z cameras. Included here is a high-level overview and cut-away views of the Mastcam-Z subsystems and their behaviors based on Computer-Aided Design (CAD) models, a table summarizing Mastcam-Z’s major characteristics and performance metrics, and some links to more detailed technical information.

1600 x 1200
(HD-format) pixels

26-110 mm
zoom range

Up to 100’s of
megabits per sol
data return

f/7 wide angle to
f/10 telephoto

panoramic view


vertical view

Lossless or lossy
JPEG compression

Mastcam subsystems graphic

Instrument Overview

Two identical cameras (except for small differences in the color filters) are mounted about 2 m (6.5 feet) above the surface, on the rover’s Remote Sensing Mast. Each camera consists of four major subsystems: A digital CCD sensor and electronics box, an 8-position filter wheel, a multi-lens zoom assembly, and a single-lens focusing assembly. A short light shade helps reduce scattered light in the optics. A separate Digital Electronics Assembly is mounted inside the rover, and two calibration targets are mounted on the rover deck.

Mastcam-Z cross-section graphic

Mastcam-Z Optics and Ray Trace

Cross-sectional CAD view and ray-trace diagram of the Mastcam-Z optics. Two small motors drive the Zoom and Focus mechanisms.

Mastcam-Z Zoom Mechanism Motion

CAD animation and cross-sectional view of the Mastcam-Z zoom mechanism in action, going from wide angle to telephoto and back again.

Mastcam-Z Focus Mechanism Motion

CAD animation and cross-sectional view of the Mastcam-Z focus mechanism in action, going across its full range and back again.

Perseverance rover with inset photos showing camera, calibration target, a electronics locations

Camera, Cal Target, Electronics Locations

(upper right inset) Locations of the Mastcam-Z Primary and Secondary calibration targets on the Perseverance rover deck. (lower right inset) The Mastcam-Z left (ML) and right (MR) cameras share space on the mast with the Navcam left (NL) and right (NR) cameras and SuperCam (SC) optics. (lower left inset) Mastcam-Z Digital Electronics Assembly, located inside the rover body.

Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover Mastcam-Z Instrument Characteristics

Optics Description
Focus Adjustable; Working distances 1-2 m to ∞
MTF > 0.2 at Nyquist (optics + filters + CCD)
Filter bandpasses Two 8 position filter wheels: see Filter Table below
Zoom-Dependent: Widest Field Narrowest Field
FOV (1600⨉1200 pix) 25.5°⨉19.1° 6.2°⨉4.6°
IFOV 280 µrad 66.7 µrad
Focal ratio f/7.0 f/9.7
Effective focal length 26 mm 110 mm
Detector & Electronics Description
CCD ON Semi (Kodak) KAI-2020CM interline transfer
Color Red, Green, Blue microfilters, Bayer pattern
Array size 1600⨉1200 photoactive pixels (1648⨉1214 total)
Pixel size 7.4 µm (square pixels)
Gain, Read Noise, Full Well 15.6/15.8 e–/DN; 27/27 e– ; 22000/28000 e– (Left/Right)
Digitization 11 bits/pixel; single gain, no offset states
Data Interface Synchronous LVDS: 8 Mbit/sec
Command Interface 2 Mbit/sec serial link
Memory 128 MB SDRAM and 8 GB flash buffer for each camera
Power 7.5 W standby and 11.8 W imaging, per camera
Exposure Description
Duration 0 to 838.8 sec; commanded in units of 0.1 msec
Auto-exposure Based on MSL and MER auto-exposure algorithm
Onboard Compression Description
Uncompressed 11-bit data; No compression; No color interpolation
Lossless ~1.7:1 lossless compression; no color interpolation
Lossy Realtime JPEG; color interpolation or grayscale; commandable color subsampling Y:CR:CB (4:4:4 or 4:2:2); commandable compression quality (1–100)
Video Group of Pictures (GOP) JPEG-compressed color-interpolated GOPs, up to 2 MB file size and up to 16 frames/GOP; commandable color subsampling and compression quality
Deferred compression Image can be stored onboard Mastcam-Z DEA uncompressed; specified compression can be performed at a later time for transmission to Earth
Z-Stacking for focus merges and range mapping Reduce as many as eight 1600⨉1200 raw images to a single 1600⨉1200 best-focus color JPEG plus a grayscale JPEG range image.
Companding 11-bit to 8-bit square-root encoding via lookup table
Physical Description
DEA Dimensions 22 ⨉ 12 ⨉ 5 cm
Camera Head 11 ⨉ 12 ⨉ 26 cm (each camera)
Primary Cal Target 98 ⨉ 98 ⨉ 8 mm base, plus 37.5 mm high gnomon
Secondary Cal Target 80 ⨉ 30 ⨉ 16 mm (width ⨉ height ⨉ depth)
Stereo Baseline 24.08 cm; each camera toed-in by 1.25°
Mass: Camera Head 1.38 kg each
Mass: DEA 1.47 kg
Mass: Cal Targets Primary: 103 g; Secondary: 15 g

Mastcam-Z Left (L) and Right (R) Filters

Filter Number Band Center ± HWHM (nm)
L0/R0 (Red Bayer) 630 ± 43 631 ± 43
L0/R0 (Green Bayer) 544 ± 41 544 ± 42
L0/R0 (Blue Bayer) 480 ± 46 480 ± 46
L1 / R1 800 ± 9 800 ± 9
L2 / R2 754 ± 10 866 ± 10
L3 / R3 677 ± 11 910 ± 12
L4 / R4 605 ± 9 939 ± 12
L5 / R5 528 ± 11 978 ± 10
L6 / R6 442 ± 12 1022 ± 19
Solar L7 / Solar R7 590 ± 88, ND6 880 ± 10, ND5

Source: Bell III, J.F. et al. (2020), Space Sci. Rev. (see Publications page for link).

Mastcam-Z Timeline

January 2014 Mastcam-Z proposal submitted to NASA
July 2014 Mastcam-Z selected by NASA as part of the Perseverance payload
October 2015 Mastcam-Z Preliminary Design Review (PDR)
November 2016 Mastcam-Z Critical Design Review (CDR)
Fall 2018 Mastcam-Z "Engineering Qualification Model” (EQM) tested at ASU in Tempe, Arizona
Spring 2019 Mastcam-Z flight cameras calibrated at Malin Space Science Systems in San Diego, California
Summer 2019 Mastcam-Z flight cameras delivered to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, for start of AssemblyTest, and Launch Operations (ATLO)
Summer 2020 Mars 2020 spacecraft launch from Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, Florida
February 2021 Perseverance lands in Jezero crater for a mission of at least one Mars year (687 Earth days)

Want More Details?

Much more information can be found in these peer-reviewed open-access scientific journal publications about Mastcam-Z:

J.F. Bell III and 49 colleagues, The Mars 2020 Rover Mast Camera Zoom (Mastcam-Z) Multispectral, Stereoscopic Imaging Investigation, Space Science Reviews, 217, 2020.
Read the paper

A.G. Hayes and 29 colleagues, Pre-Flight Calibration of the Mars 2020 Rover Mastcam Zoom (Mastcam-Z) Multispectral, Stereoscopic Imager, Space Science Reviews, 217, 2020.
Read the paper

K.M. Kinch and 33 colleagues, Radiometric Calibration Targets for the Mastcam-Z Camera on the Mars 2020 Rover Mission, Space Science Reviews, 216, 2020.
Read the paper

If you have technical questions about Mastcam-Z that are not addressed here or in that journal paper, please contact us with your questions.