Thin film surface treatments for lowering dust adhesion on Mars Rover calibration targets


The current generation of calibration targets on Mars Rover serve as a color and radiometric reference for the panoramic camera. They consist of a transparent silicon-based polymer tinted with either color or grey-scale pigments and cast with a microscopically rough Lambertian surface for a diffuse reflectance pattern. This material has successfully withstood the harsh conditions existent on Mars. However, the inherent roughness of the Lambertian surface (relative to the particle size of the Martian airborne dust) and the tackiness of the polymer in the calibration targets has led to a serious dust accumulation problem. In this work, non-invasive thin film technology was successfully implemented in the design of future generation calibration targets leading to significant reduction of dust adhesion and capture. The new design consists of a μm-thick interfacial layer capped with a nm-thick optically transparent layer of pure metal. The combination of these two additional layers is effective in burying the relatively rough Lambertian surface while maintaining diffuse properties of the samples which is central to the correct operation as calibration targets. A set of these targets are scheduled for flight on the Mars Phoenix mission. © 2007 COSPAR.

Publication Title

Advances in Space Research