London: In a first, the European Space Agency (ESA) live-streamed historic live images directly from Mars on YouTube. The historic images were also shared on ESA’s Twitter account.
It took about 18 minutes for images to travel directly from Mars to Earth for the live streaming late on Friday.
The live-streaming link, which is still available on YouTube, from Mars celebrated the 20th anniversary of the launch of ESA’s Mars Express orbiter.
Over the past 20 years, Mars Express has orbited the Red Planet 24,510 times, during which its camera acquired around 6,916 images.
According to James Godfrey, spacecraft operations manager at ESA’s mission control centre in Germany, one normally sees images from Mars and knows 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!” he said in a statement.
The agency had said that they never tried anything like this before, “so exact travel times for signals on the ground remain a little uncertain”.
Images from the Mars Express spacecraft were taken once about every 48 seconds, according to ESA.
According to reports, nearly one hour’s worth of images was sent from Mars Express before the spacecraft moved too far from the Red Planet.
Since beginning science operations in 2004, Mars Express has provided breathtaking views of Mars in three dimensions.
It has provided the most complete map of the chemical composition of the atmosphere, studied Mars’s innermost moon Phobos in unprecedented detail, and traced the history of water across the globe, demonstrating that Mars once harboured environmental conditions that may have been suitable for life.