The Mars Webcam is back in action after taking a three month hiatus surrounding Mars solar conjunction. If you don’t remember, or if haven’t heard about this “eye on Mars” before, here is a little background: the Visual Monitoring Camera (VMC) is part of the Mars Express spacecraft, ESA’s Mars orbiter. Its original purpose was to provide simple, low-tech images of Beagle lander separation. After the Beagle departed from the orbiter in Dec. 2003 (and subsequently wasn’t heard from again) the VMC was switched off. But in August of 2008 mission planners had the idea of trying to turn the camera back on, and using it as a “webcam,” which ran until December and solar conjunction. The VMC team also has a new blog and they are also looking for the public’s help in processing and cleaning up their images.
The Mars Webcam is not a scientific instrument, but it does provide fantastic views of Mars – including crescent views of the planet not obtainable from Earth.
According to the VMC blog, the scientific team is looking for the public’s help to interpret and rework images, as well as perform a little photo artistry (i.e. Photoshopping) on the images taken by this camera. “We cordially invite you to download any of our images sets and send us your results. We’ll post the best in our public gallery.”
Find more info on how to work with the VMC team here.