Mars fans, get your popcorn ready for tomorrow, Friday, June 2nd.
The first live stream from Mars orbit is set for Friday, June 2. The European Space Agency (ESA) will broadcast the hour-long stream on YouTube, giving viewers a glimpse of the Red Planet.
ESA is sharing the live stream to celebrate the 20th birthday of Mars Express, their ongoing project to gain a deeper understanding of our nearest planetary neighbor. The images will be beamed directly to Earth from the orbiter’s Visual Monitoring Camera (VMC), showing Mars in all its glory from afar.
The first live streaming from Mars
Since this mission has been running for almost two decades, the outdated equipment has seen better days. It’s also the first time anything like this has been attempted, so the team is keeping their fingers crossed.
“This is an old camera, originally planned for engineering purposes, at a distance of almost three million kilometers from Earth – this has not been tried before and, to be honest, we are not 100% sure that it will work,” he said James Godfrey, space operations manager at ESA’s mission control center in Darmstadt, in a statement.
“But I’m quite optimistic. Normally we see images from Mars and know they were taken days before. I’m excited to see Mars as it is now – as close to a Martian ‘now’ as we can get!’
It’s called “live” but there will be a slight delay due to the time it takes for light to travel the long distance between Earth and Mars. The distance depends on the orbits of the two planets, but the average is about 225 million kilometers (140 million miles).
The time between the images taken from orbit around Mars and appearing on the screen will be about 18 minutes: about 17 minutes for the light to travel from Mars to Earth, and another minute to pass through the wires and servers on the ground. If you have a problem with that, you can pick it up at the speed of light.