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NASA's Mars Curiosity rover is already pretty brainy, but like any robot, it still requires direction.

Researchers with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) are hoping to change that by developing a new camera for the NASA rovers. The TextureCam, as it's been dubbed, would allow future rovers to carry out missions without waiting on instructions from controllers back on Earth -- a process that can take a long time, depending on the rover's distance from home.

Published recently in Geophysical Research Letters, the TextureCam research details how the new rover camera is capable of capturing 3D images. An on-board processor then analyzes the texture of the materials in the photos and evaluates the distance between objects to identify features of scientific importance.

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