The Mastcam-Z is the name of the mast-mounted camera system that is equipped with a zoom function on the Mars 2020 rover. Mastcam-Z has cameras that can zoom in, focus, and take 3-D pictures and video at high speed to allow detailed examination of distant objects.
Mastcam-Z Lens Packaging Diagram, labeled
decorative gear graphic

Tech Specs

  • MAIN JOB:To take high-definition video, panoramic color and 3D images of the Martian surface and features in the atmosphere with a zoom lens to magnify distant targets.
  • LOCATION: Mounted on the rover mast at the eye level of a 6 ½-foot-tall person (2 meters tall). The cameras are separated by 9.5 inches (24.2 centimeters) to provide stereo vision.
  • MASS: Approximately 8.8 pounds (about 4 kilograms)
  • POWER: Approximately 17.4 watts
  • VOLUME: Camera head, per unit:4.3 by 4.7 by 10.2 inches
    (11 by 12 by 26 centimeters).

    Digital electronics assembly: 8.6 by 4.7 by 1.9 inches
    (22 by 12 by 5 centimeters).

    Calibration target: 3.9 by 3.9 by 2.7 inches
    (10 by 10 by 7 centimeters)

  • DATA RETURN: Approximately 148 megabits per sol, average
  • COLOR QUALITY: Similar to that of a consumer digital camera (2-megapixel)
  • IMAGE SIZE: 1600 by 1200 pixels maximum
  • PIXEL SCALE: Able to resolve between about 150 microns per pixel (0.15 millimeter or 0.0059 inch) to 7.4 millimeters (0.3 inch) per pixel depending on distance
image of Prof. Jim Bell
Prof. Jim Bell
Principal Investigator
Arizona State University
Tempe, Arizona

"Mastcam-Z will be the main eyes of NASA’s next Mars rover."

-- Jim Bell

Did You Know?

Mastcam-Z helps out other Mars 2020 experiments by looking at the whole landscape. It identifies rocks and "soil" (regolith) that deserve a closer look by the rover's other instruments. It also spots important rocks for the Mars 2020 rover to sample by drilling rock core samples and caching (storing) them on the surface of Mars.

MASTCAM-Z: Did You Know?

Five Things To Know
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picks out
the "best" rocks
Mastcam-Z's "eyesight" helps scientists zoom in on rocks, picking out some that might preserve signs of past life. It tells us which rocks to core, cache, and maybe return to Earth
hunts places for life
Mastcam-Z helps us understand the terrain around the rover, such as rock and soil textures. Those clues help show if Mars could have supported tiny life forms
long ago.
looks for water signs
Scientists can use Mastcam-Z to find signs of ancient lakes, streams, and other water-related features.
has sharp vision
With its powerful zoom, Mastcam-Z can see features as small as a house fly - all the way from a distance that's about the length of a soccer field!
is all-seeing
Mastcam-Z shows us the entire scene around the rover. It can look around in a full 360-degree circle and a full 180 degrees, from straight down to straight up. It also "sees" in color and 3d (stereo).

The Story Behind the Name

Think of Mastcam-Z as the Mars 2020 rover’s main “eyes.” It is located near the top of the rover's mast (its “head”).  It's a camera system, and it has a Zoom capability – Z for the mark of Zoom! What would you call it but Mastcam-Z?

MASTCAM-Z: The Story Behind the Name