After three months off-line, the European Space Agency’s Mars Webcam is back, with much improved IT infrastructure support.
The Mars Webcam is officially called “The Mars Express Visual Monitoring Camera (VMC).” Its original purpose was to monitor the separation from the Mars Express of the ill-fated Beagle lander. It is not a scientific instrument, but a simple, low-tech camera. It provides fantastic views of the Red Planet. Including crescent views not seen from Earth.
ESA’s deep space probe, Mars Express, has been on the other side of the Sun recently, so there have been no pictures from the VMC. It started sending pictures again mid-February.
ESA have now set up the IT support so that pictures form the VMC are uploaded automatically to its own blog as they arrive. Depending on what other data is in the transmission queue, a picture from the VMC could be available online within an hour of it being taken.
These images are raw and unprocessed. This is where you could help. ESA are looking for anyone to process the images or even identify landmarks on the surface.
If you are looking to make a contribution to planetary science go to the Mars Express Visual Monitoring Camera blog and see how you can help.