Fostering Curiosity: Mars Express relays rocky images
For the first time, ESA's Mars orbiter has relayed scientific data from NASA's Curiosity rover on the Red Planet's surface. The data included detailed images of 'Rocknest3' and were received by ESA's deep-space antenna in Australia.
It was a small but significant step in interplanetary cooperation between space agencies.
Early on the morning of 6 October, ESA's Mars Express looked down as it orbited the planet, lining up its lander communication antenna to point at Curiosity far below on the surface.
For 15 minutes, the NASA rover transmitted scientific data up to the ESA satellite. A few hours later, Mars Express slewed to point its high-gain antenna toward Earth and began downlinking the precious information to the European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany, via the Agency's 35 m-diameter antenna in New Norcia, Australia.
The data were immediately made available to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California for processing and analysis, proving again that NASA's amazing new rover can talk with Europe's veteran Mars orbiter.
This image was taken on Sol 57 (4 October 2012) of target Rocknest3 using the ChemCam Remote Micro-Imager (RMI) on the NASA Curiosity rover at a distance of 3.7 m. The image was downlinked to Earth by ESA's Mars Express orbiter via the 35m deep space ESTRACK station in New Norcia, Australia.
Read more on the ESA's web site