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Avatar offers more than just a great story line and cool special effects May 3, 2010

Posted by Jill in Fun, Science & Culture.

Cameron now working with NASA

Although Avatar provided a great turnout for the Marian University Science Club showing of the Earth Day outdoor movie, it appears that the film might have scientific benefits as well. Because of the 3-D camcorders used in the

blockbuster, James Cameron’s Avatar, NASA is partnering with James Cameron to help build 3-D cameras for the next Mars rover, appropriately named Curiosity. Attempts to build such a type of camera were abandoned in 2007 due to the mere cost of production of such a camera. Cameron petitioned to NASA to help build the 3-D cameras for the new rover even though all four cameras, called Mastcams, for the rover have been built.

The last two cameras built will be replaced by the new 3-D camera if construction and testing can be finished in time for final rover testing happening in the early portion of next year. The 3-D zoom Mastcams that NASA plans on building with Cameron’s state-of-the-art equipment will be used to capture better, more detailed images than previously able to capture with the original Mastcams. Another benefit of these cameras is that the rover will be able to shoot 3-D cinematic video while on Mars.


The rover was originally set to launch in 2009, but due to funding restraints, the launch was postponed until further funding could be gathered. The mission of Curiosity is to determine if life had existed on Mars and also to prep for an eventual manned mission to land on Mars. Critics, like Steven Hawking, warn about the potential dangers associated with contacting or attempting to find life outside of Earth for many reasons including the problems encountered in the film, Avatar, including the fact that invading or even potentially contacting another life form could “be much as when Christopher Columbus first landed in America, which didn’t turn out very well for the Native Americans.” As Uncle Ben says to Peter Parker in Spiderman, “with great power comes great responsibility.” Hawking, as well as others, admonishes researchers to be weary when contacting or exploring life outside of our planet because it is impossible to know what encounters we will find and how other life forms could potentially react to non-natives.

The full news article can be found at NASA: James Cameron to develop 3-D camera for Mars rover.


1. Kathy Tonetti - May 3, 2010

Love the blogs!

2. Dr. O - May 3, 2010

Really cool post, Jill. I heard about this on Friday afternoon!

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