Mars broadcast was seen for the first time, providing a live view from the planet on the 20th anniversary of Mars Express. Despite challenges, the European Space Agency successfully captures and transmits fresh images from Mars through its orbiter.
Mars Footage Livestreamed From The Planet For The First Time In Human History
A broadcast from Mars has been seen for the first time in human history.
People can get as close as is now possible to a live view from Mars to commemorate the 20th birthday of the European Space Agency's (ESA) Mars Express.
The long-lasting Martian orbiter operated by ESA is beaming down fresh images from its Visual Monitoring Camera around every 50 seconds.
“This is an old camera, originally planned for engineering purposes, at a distance of almost three million kilometers from Earth – this hasn’t been tried before and to be honest, we’re not 100 percent certain it’ll work,” explains James Godfrey, Spacecraft Operations Manager at ESA’s mission control center in Darmstadt, Germany.
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“But I’m pretty optimistic. Normally, we see images from Mars and know that they were taken days before.”
“I’m excited to see Mars as it is now – as close to a Martian ‘now’ as we can possibly get!”
According to the ESA, it will take roughly 18 minutes for the images to arrive on your screen during Friday's (2 June) hour-long broadcast from Mars.
In its current structure, light would need to travel from Mars to Earth in 17 minutes, and would take roughly one minute to traverse the wires and servers on Earth.
Even though the image isn't particularly impressive, keep in mind that it's a challenge to relay high-quality photographs from Mars to Earth due to their distance—302.4 million kilometers.
"Most observations and data gathered by spacecraft are taken during periods when they are not in direct contact with a ground station antenna on Earth," the ESA explained.
"Either because of geometry – for example, on the other side of the Sun or Mars – or the spacecraft’s antenna is pointing away from Earth while gathering scientific data.”
"For science, this is no problem.”
"The data is stored on board and beamed down a few hours or even days later, once the spacecraft is in contact with the ground again.”
"What normally happens for the Visual Monitoring Camera on Mars Express, is every couple of days a new batch is ‘downlinked’, processed, and made available to the world."
The ESA's initial effort to visit a planet in the solar system, the Mars Express, was launched in 2003.
It utilized the same technology as the Mars 96 and ESA Rosetta missions.
It has given us a better understanding of the history of water, the surface, and the possibility of human habitation throughout its 20 years away from Earth.