Colorado-made camera helps scientists discover water on Mars

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BOULDER, Colo. -- A Colorado company is credited with helping NASA discover water on Mars. Newly released photos taken by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter show a salty brine flowing on the planet, suggesting possible life on Mars.

Those pictures were taken by a camera designed and built in Boulder.

Ball Aerospace and Technologies designed, tested and built the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment Camera, known as HiRISE, which captured the images.

Tom Ebbens is one of the more than 50 Coloradans involved in the design and testing of the technology.

“HiRISE is the highest resolution camera ever sent to another planet. Basically, we can image objects on Mars down to about the size of a boulder, maybe a meter across,” he said while showing off a replica of the camera that sits in the company’s office.

Also in the office is a picture of Mars’ Victoria Crater, one of the first images the camera captured.

“It’s a very, very wonderful, high resolution, wonderful image,” Ebbens said.

But what’s even more amazing is how the camera has held up. It was designed in 2001 and was only expected to last through 2008.

“Some of the images that have come back are just incredible. We've imaged Earth. We've imaged the moons of Mars," Ebbens said.

They're images that could help scientists finally learn whether life exists beyond Earth -- images captured by a camera made in Colorado.

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