If you saw any of those spectacular images of NASA’s Perseverance rover touching down on Mars you can thank a Richmond, B.C., company.
Pictures of the landing were captured by cameras designed and built by FLIR Systems.
Sadiq Panjwani of FLIR Systems said the cameras on entry, descent and landing modules for the Perseverance project had a resolution of 1.2 megapixels or 3.2 megapixels, well below the standards of cameras on most smartphones.
“They wanted something that can capture images really, really fast at a very high frame rate,” Panjwani explained. “And they wanted it in a certain resolution that when they slow it down, they don’t lose the information.”
Those cameras captured dramatic images, including the deployment of the parachute, the rover hanging below the descent vehicle and the martian dust as it hit the ground.
FLIR Systems didn’t really modify its industrial cameras as they are already designed to be used in extreme environments, but none of them had ever been tested in near absolute zero temperatures.
Panjwani described the company’s role in the rover landing as a career highlight.
“Absolutely excited — I was jumping, a lot of my colleagues were too,” he said of the moment when the rover touched down safely on the surface of Mars.
“There are moments in life that kind of define you.”