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. Alex Miller via YouTube

    Sister loves brother too much to let him grow up

    7/30/2014 1:26:08 AM +00:00 2014-07-30T01:26:08
  1. Javier Pesquera / ABC

    'Bachelorette' superfan: Stop the shame game!

    7/30/2014 12:27:07 AM +00:00 2014-07-30T00:27:07
  1. Bravo / Steve Jennings/Bravo

    Extreme parenting: Who are we to judge?

    7/29/2014 6:52:01 PM +00:00 2014-07-29T18:52:01
  1. Obama joins EU to impose new sanctions on Russia

    President Obama announced on Tuesday that not only would the U.S. be imposing additional sanctions on Russia’s defense, energy and financial sectors, but that the European Union would also be imposing new sanctions on the country. 

    7/29/2014 7:55:14 PM +00:00 2014-07-29T19:55:14
  1. Courtesy of Steve Tillotson

    6-year-old 'Rapunzel' chops off her hair for kids with cancer

    7/29/2014 6:54:06 PM +00:00 2014-07-29T18:54:06