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First-Ever Mars Livestream Captured by European Satellite – You Won’t Believe Your Eyes!

First-Ever Mars Livestream Captured by European Satellite – You Won’t Believe Your Eyes!

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European spacecraft Mars Express sends first-ever livestream from Mars

On Friday, the European Space Agency (ESA) marked the 20th anniversary of the launch of its spacecraft, Mars Express, by broadcasting its first-ever livestream from the surface of Mars. The livestream was disrupted at times by rainy weather at the deep space-relay antenna in Spain, but enough images made it through to delight ESA’s space officials during the hour-long event. The mission’s spacecraft operations engineer, Simon Wood, stated that the images transmitted in near real-time showed approximately one-third of Mars, with white clouds clearly visible in some frames.

The Livestream and Images

The images were courtesy of ESA’s Mars Express, which was launched from Kazakhstan by a Russian rocket in 2003. Each picture took nearly 17 minutes to reach Earth, nearly 300 million kilometres away, and another minute to get through the ground stations. Pictures and other data are typically stored aboard the spacecraft and transmitted to Earth later when the spacecraft’s antenna can be pointed this way. However, near real-time footage from such a distance is a rare occurrence, according to ESA.

Lessons from Previous Space Livestreams

ESA also pointed out that live broadcasts by the Apollo moonwalkers over half a century ago and live snippets from spacecraft sent closer to home have previously been shared in near real-time. Nonetheless, a lengthy livestream from deep space is a first, according to ESA.

Disruptive Weather

Despite the rain on the plains in Spain reducing the number of pictures shown, ESA devoted only an hour to the livestream. This was to avoid overloading the spacecraft’s batteries. The Mars Express mission traveled to the red planet with a lander called Beagle-2, which lost contact with Earth when it tried to touch down on the Martian surface. More than a decade later, NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter captured pictures of Beagle-2. The lander made it to the surface, but its solar panels didn’t fully unfurl.

FAQs

What spacecraft was used for the livestream from Mars?

The European Space Agency (ESA) broadcast the livestream with views courtesy of its Mars Express, launched by a Russian rocket from Kazakhstan in 2003.

Where was the deep space-relay antenna located?

The deep space-relay antenna in Spain was used for the livestream; however, rainy weather did affect the signal.

Why is the near real-time footage a rare occurrence?

Near real-time footage from such a distance is a rare occurrence, according to ESA.

Why was the livestream devoted for only an hour?

ESA devoted only an hour to the livestream because it did not want to overload the spacecraft’s batteries. 

What happened to the Beagle-2 lander that also traveled to Mars?

The Mars Express mission traveled to the red planet with a lander called Beagle-2, which lost contact with Earth when it tried to touch down on the Martian surface. More than a decade later, NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter captured pictures of Beagle-2. The lander made it to the surface, but its solar panels didn’t fully unfurl.

Conclusion

The European Space Agency’s Mars Express mission recently marked its 20th anniversary with a first-ever livestream transmission from the surface of Mars. Despite disruptive weather conditions in Spain, enough images made it through to delight ESA’s space officials during the hour-long event. The livestream was a rare occurrence, and ESA devoted only an hour to it so as not to overload the spacecraft’s batteries. It serves as a remarkable milestone in planetary exploration and a testament to the perseverance of scientific curiosity.

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