On Sunday, NASA will launch its most sophisticated mission to Mars yet, and a Sorrento Valley company is playing a huge role in the venture.
» Sign Up For Breaking News Alerts» Like Us On Facebook» Follow Us On Twitter
Malin Space Science Systems developed and built the four main cameras on the Mars rover "Curiosity," which will help gather important data to bring back to scientists for analysis.
Once Curiosity gets past the so-called "Seven Minutes of Terror" -- the moments leading up to the complicated landing on Mars -- pictures of the red planet's landscape will come to life. It's not the company's first mission to Mars, but it is definitely one of the more publicized.
"We've worked on these when they succeeded, we worked on them when they failed, but it's really a lot more fun when they succeed," said Mike Ravine, the advanced projects manager for Malin Space Science Systems.
The company won the bid to build the cameras for the rover back in 2004. The cameras took eight years of work with lots of challenges, including dealing with extreme weather on Mars.
"We had to build a prototype and we had to put it in a chamber and we had to cycle it over these very wide temperature swings 2,000 times," Ravine said.
Despite the cameras' high-tech abilities, there are some parts of it not as sophisticated as some may think.
"The cameras have 2-megapixel detectors and have 8 gigabytes of flash," Ravine said. "My phone [now] has a bigger format and a lot more flash in it than that."
The entire NASA project cost $2.5 billion.
Copyright Do you have more information about this story? Click here to contact usCopyright 2012 by 10News.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.