Although classified as an instrument, the MARDI will perform a different kind of analysis for different purposes than the other instruments aboard the MSL. A firstgeneration Mars Descent Imager was employed during the landing phase of EDL for the MER rovers. It was designed to determine horizontal velocity and send the information to the TIRS system so that the airbag-protected lander and rover could drop straight to the planet's surface. The second generation MARDI is much more sophisticated and has the benefit of more development time. It will take color video of the landing site at five frames per second during the MSL's parachute descent. This will provide vital information on the spacecraft's precise landing location as it descends to the surface, and will provide a terrain map of the area to help science planners establish the MSL's paths of exploration. It will also allow the spacecraft to make corrections to avoid large boulders, cliffs or other surface features as the MSL touches down on the planet's surface. (See MSL EDL below).
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