Today, June 2, at 16:00 GMT (19:00 Moscow time), the European Space Agency (ESA) will conduct a live broadcast of the image from the Mars Express orbiter. The event, dedicated to the 20th anniversary of the launch of the station, will last an hour.
The broadcast will show the image closest to the real-time image – the delay will be 18 minutes: 17 minutes will be required to transmit the signal to Earth, and another 1 minute will be spent on broadcasting it through terrestrial servers and cables.
Mars Express with the Beagle 2 lander took off from Baikonur on June 2, 2003. They arrived in Martian orbit in December of the same year. The Beagle 2 landed on Mars, but could not be contacted, presumably due to a malfunction in the solar panels and communications antenna. And Mars-Express successfully began work in the regular mode and began to study the planet with the help of seven of its scientific instruments.
He has accomplished a lot in two decades. For example, he was able to detect methane in the Martian atmosphere, map the composition of ice caps near the poles, and presumably discover an underground lake near the South Pole of Mars. The video will be broadcast live from the VMC (Visual Monitoring Camera), originally designed to control the undocking of the Beagle-2. After the failure of the lander, the VMC was turned off, but subsequently turned back on for filming for scientific and educational purposes. ESA specialists have improved the algorithms for processing images from the camera, turning it into a full-fledged eighth tool. It took ESA several months to prepare today’s broadcast, including the development of tools for quickly publishing VMC images on the Web.
And chances are it won’t work at all. “This is an old camera, originally designed for engineering purposes. [для работы] at a distance of 3 million km from the Earth – this has not yet been tried, and, frankly, we are not 100% sure that it will work. <..> But I’m pretty optimistic. Usually we see images from Mars and know that they were taken a few days before. I’m glad to see Mars as it is now – as close to the Martian “now” as possible! – commented on the project James Godfrey (James Godfrey), manager of spacecraft operations at the ESA mission control center in Darmstadt, Germany.
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