1. Headline
  1. Headline
Image: Curiosity rover
NASA
An artist's conception shows NASA's Curiosity rover, which is due to be launched to Mars in 2011.
msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 4/29/2010 10:53:29 PM ET 2010-04-30T02:53:29

"Avatar" director James Cameron is helping to build a high-resolution 3-D camera on the next-generation Mars rover.

The camera will be mounted atop Curiosity, the next mission to Mars, which is due for launch next year.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory scaled back its plans in 2007 to mount a 3-D camera atop Curiosity because the upcoming flagship mission to Mars was consistently over budget and behind schedule.

But Cameron lobbied NASA Administrator Charles Bolden for the inclusion of the 3-D camera during a January meeting, saying that a rover with a better set of eyes will help the public connect with the mission.

Bolden was convinced. "He actually was really open to the idea," Cameron told the Pasadena Star-News. "Our first meeting went very well."

Earlier this month, San Diego-based Malin Space Science Systems delivered a mast camera without 3-D capabilities to JPL. Now the MSSS team is building the 3-D version, with Cameron listed as co-investigator.

Managers for the Curiosity rover mission aren't sure whether the new camera will be ready in time, but they told the Star-News that they're excited about the prospect of filming movies at 10 frames per second.

Image: Cameron and Bolden
NASA
Film director James Cameron, left, meets with NASA Administrator Charles Bolden at the agency's Washington headquarters in January.
"You could take a movie and image clouds moving in the sky or a dust devil movie," said Joy Crisp, the mission's deputy project scientist at JPL. "As you're driving, you could take a movie."

Cameron has long been interested in 3-D moviemaking as well as spaceflight. His 3-D science-fiction movie "Avatar" ranks as the top-grossing film of all time, with more than $2.7 billion in box-office receipts. That's more than the estimated $2.3 billion cost of the Curiosity mission, also known as Mars Science Laboratory.

The film director has served on the NASA Advisory Council, and in the past he's acknowledged discussing the possibility of traveling to the International Space Station to do a movie. That possibility faded in 2003 because of the Columbia shuttle tragedy.

This report includes information from The Associated Press and msnbc.com.

© 2013 msnbc.com

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,

Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments

More on TODAY.com

  1. Getty Images

    Jenna Bush Hager, celebs remember Oscar de la Renta with adoration

    10/21/2014 1:36:20 PM +00:00 2014-10-21T13:36:20
  1. Ebola outbreak: West Africans must arrive at 5 U.S. airports

    All travelers from Ebola-stricken countries in West Africa must pass through one of five major U.S. airports with heightened entry screening before entering the country, the Department of Homeland Security said Tuesday.

    10/21/2014 4:22:36 PM +00:00 2014-10-21T16:22:36
  1. Car owners warned about exploding air bags

    video The federal government is urging nearly 5 million people to get the air bags in their cars repaired because they pose a potentially deadly risk in the event of an accident. NBC’s Tom Costello reports.

    10/21/2014 11:36:09 AM +00:00 2014-10-21T11:36:09
  1. Dimitrios Kambouris / Getty Images

    Best baby-bump style? Blake Lively stuns again on red carpet

    10/21/2014 3:32:04 PM +00:00 2014-10-21T15:32:04
  1. Chris Jackson / Getty Images

    Kate's back! Duchess Kate appears for first time since pregnancy news

    10/21/2014 11:57:43 AM +00:00 2014-10-21T11:57:43