European Space Agency shares never-before-seen views of Mars

The European Space Agency on Friday live-streamed images from its Mars Express orbiter in close to real-time, according to

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The live stream happened on the 20th anniversary of Mars Express’ launch. The stream lasted about an hour.

“Does Mars really exist? Yes, but we only have evidence of it as it was in the past, once light has bounced off it or is sent by orbiters and landers exploring it, and travels to Earth. Depending on the two planets’ relative positions in orbit around the Sun, this can take anywhere from 3 to 22 minutes,” ESA said in a statement.

ESA’s Mars Express orbiter was a mission that took three-dimensional images from Mars’s surface in order to see more detail, according to CNN.

“This will be the closest you can get to a live view from the Red Planet,” officials at ESA said in a statement.

The first photos of Mars were taken about every 50 seconds as they were beamed down directly from the Visual Monitoring Camera on board ESA’s longest-living productive Martian orbiter, ESA said.

“This is an old camera, originally planned for engineering purposes, at a distance of almost 3 million kilometers from Earth -- this hasn’t been tried before and to be honest, we’re not 100% certain it’ll work,” explains James Godfrey, Spacecraft Operations Manager at ESA’s mission control center in Darmstadt, Germany, on YouTube.

“But I’m pretty optimistic. Normally, we see images from Mars and know 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,” Godfrey continued.

If you missed the stream, you can go back and watch it on ESA’s YouTube page.

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