ESA’s Mars Express has relayed pictures from one of NASAs Mars rovers for the first time, as part of a set of interplanetary networking demonstrations. The demonstrations pave the way for future Mars missions to draw on joint interplanetary networking capabilities. ESA and NASA planned these demonstrations as part of continuing efforts to cooperate in space exploration.
On 4 August at 14:24 CEST, as Mars Express flew over one of NASA’s Mars exploration rovers, Opportunity, it successfully received data previously collected and stored by the rover. The data, including 15 science images from the rovers nine cameras, were then downlinked to ESA’s European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt (Germany) and immediately relayed to the Mars Exploration Rovers team based at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, USA.
NASA orbiters Mars Odyssey and Mars Global Surveyor have so far relayed most of the data produced by the rovers since they landed in January. Communication compatibility between Mars Express and the rovers had already been demonstrated in February, although at a low rate that did not convey much data. The 4 August session, at a transmit rate of 42.6 megabits in about six minutes, set a new mark for international networking around another planet.
Guido de Marchi | alfa
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