New NASA Video Provides Peek At Life On Mars

For the past three years, NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity has been making its way from Mars’ Victoria crater across the rocky, desolate terrain to the Endeavour crater.

The journey, which started in September 2008 and ended in August 2011, was carefully documented by the rover team, which took an end-of-drive image on each Martian day that included a drive.

A new video compiles these 309 images, condensing the historic record of the three-year trek that totaled about 13 miles (21 kilometers) across a Martian plain pocked with smaller craters into a 3 minute video clip.

The video below shows the rim of Endeavour becoming visible on the horizon partway through the journey and growing larger as Opportunity neared its goal. The drive was elongated by many detours, as Opportunity avoided large expanses of treacherous terrain along the way.

Opportunity and its rover twin, Spirit, completed their three-month prime missions on Mars in April 2004. Both rovers continued for years of bonus, extended missions. Both have made important discoveries about wet environments on ancient Mars that may have been favorable for supporting microbial life. Spirit stopped communicating in 2010. Opportunity continues its work at Endeavour. NASA will launch the next-generation Mars rover, car-size Curiosity, this autumn, for arrival at Mars’ Gale crater in August 2012.

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Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

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Fi T.
Fi T.2 years ago

There's still a lot to learn about

Manuela B.
Manuela B.3 years ago

I noticed that the horizon changes very little..... not quite convinced.

Paul C.
Paul Czerner3 years ago

What kind of video could you have with such sparesely-sampled pictures?

James Taylor
James Taylor4 years ago

Sorry James F. , you did indeed say there is a panoramic camera for colour pics...just been looking at some panoramic composite images from 2004! Interesting how Earth-like the 'false color' image of the Santa Maria crater looks here;

James Taylor
James Taylor4 years ago

Disappointing vid, I would've liked to pause some images for a better look but the screen goes dark when you do that ;o( . Also I have to agree with Lee. I mean, why no colour images? I may be wrong but didn't the Viking Lander send back colour images as far back as '76?

James F.
James F.4 years ago

Lee. You seemed to be suggesting it was unreasonable of NASA not to be providing you with colour video from the surface of Mars. As you've dismissed my brief explanation as to difficulties involved as a "reminder", perhaps my difficulty is in understanding what point you were trying to make.
Anyway, to attempt to respond to the rest of your reply:
I've no idea what the relevance of the price and power consumption of a colour CCD in 2005 might be. The power constraint I mentioned related to that used in image processing and data transmission which is considerably higher for video than stills.
The rovers don't have MMRTG as an electrical power source, they use solar power which provides about 600 Watt hours per day.
The imagers the NRO use for reconnaissance are classified, so I'm not going to tell you. :)

Lee C.
Lee CC4 years ago

Thank you, James F. for your reminder regarding the specific technicalities of these paradoxes the public is subjected to with NASA "exploration" of Mars.

It may be helpful to consider that in 2005, a *consumer*grade* colour CCD capable of 1024x1024 24-bit resolution cost less than 6 US dollars and utilized less than 0.4 watt (of an admitted 140 watt capacity of the MMRT generator onboard). The difference between power utilisation of colour and b/w sensors is absolutely negligible.

Consider still that NASA sends quite a bit of cargo into orbit for the NRO, NSA, and other "intelligence" agencies. What sort of cameras do they use?

Finally, even though I don't completely agree with all points, this site gives scratches the surface on what is held back from the public when it comes to NASA and space exploration.

James F.
James F.4 years ago

Lee, the technology on the Mars rovers dates from the last century. A machine like that takes many years to design and build and it was launched in 2003. The design is constrained by the tiny amount of power available and the difficulty of getting data back to Earth.
There are no video cameras on board, this video was cobbled together from stills taken by the navigation camera which is monochrome.
The panoramic camera, which can take colour pics isn't used on a sufficiently frequent basis to make anything resembling video footage.

Lee C.
Lee CC4 years ago

Life On Mars

In just about every video you can find from NASA, imagery from Mars is *black*&*white*. Ask yourselves why, with today's technology, all video and all photo footage from Mars is black and white. Multi-million dollar robotic equipment can be sent to another planet, but both video and photographic imagery shown to the public is black/white.

Moon Pictures

Ask yourselves why so many publicly available moon pictures have a completely black skyline, even absent of stars.

The Oddest Saturnian Moon

Why is Iapetus the only planetary satellite in our solar system with similar characteristics to Earth's moon? What are the notable differences?

Forget About Life On Mars

It would be more sensible to consider the state of human intelligence on Earth first.

Linda Chambre
Linda Chambre4 years ago

This is truly amazing that I am looking at another planet for the first time. Mars, how wonderful.