To celebrate the Mars Express Orbiter’s 20th anniversary, the European Space Agency has broadcast the first-ever live broadcast of Mars, in a historic event revealed over the course of an hour on Friday. June 3 A newly released animation shows a quick version of how the live stream looks.
During the live broadcast, the images arrived once every 50 seconds, when the craft was on board The Visual Monitoring Camera (VMC) captured the images from Mars orbit. Unfortunately, there is a noticeable gap in the middle, the result of rain at the European Space Agency’s ground station in Cebreros, Spain, disrupting telemetry from the orbiter. Engineers are still trying to recover the lost images, according to the European Space Agency press release.
The experiment revealed some neat features of Mars, including atmospheric phenomena.
“Mars is now approaching its southern winter,” VMC member Jorge Hernandez Bernal explained in the same press release. The southern polar cap is visible in these images, near the polar night, while the Arsia Mons volcano is on the left side of the planet. Orographic clouds are also common during this season, and they form as the atmosphere flows up mountains and volcanic slopes. “
On the right side of the video, Bernal added, a different cloud is observed near the polar cap. The team conducted a comprehensive study of these high-altitude clouds during the twilight period using the VMC, revealing that they are prevalent in this particular region of the planet during this season.
Achieving this feat proved to be quite a task, as VMC needed a view of the planet at the same time that the probe’s antenna was constantly facing Earth in order to stream data home instantly. Typically, the observations are stored on board the spacecraft and sent all at once to Earth, which can take hours or even days.
“Normally, the spacecraft’s instruments cannot be pointed at Mars and the communications antenna on Earth at the same time,” James Godfrey, director of spacecraft operations for Mars Express, said in the press release. “But a few weeks ago, when we were looking for ideas on how to celebrate our anniversaries, we were realisticMr. Dr that Mars would pass through the VMC’s field of view while the communications were passing by and the idea was born.”
This isn’t the most exciting visual image of Mars we’ve ever seen, but this experiment gives us a sense that we are increasingly bridging the gap between Earth and the Red Planet.
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