For the first time, you can see Mars as it is right now - East Idaho News
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For the first time, you can see Mars as it is right now

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(CNN) — Mars is making its live streaming debut, and the show will reveal the red planet in a whole new light.

On Friday, the European Space Agency is set to stream on YouTube an hour of the first live images directly from Mars, according to statement from the agency.

The event is celebrating the 20th anniversary of the launch of the agency’s Mars Express — a mission to take three-dimensional images of the planet’s surface to see it in more complete detail.

You can watch the stream on ESA’s YouTube channel for an hour starting at 6 p.m. Central European Time, or noon ET Friday. While it won’t be truly live, there will be a new image about every 50 seconds of that hour, the agency said.

Updates will also be available at ESA’s Twitter account and the hashtag #MarsLIVE, the agency said.

“Normally, we see images from Mars and know that they were taken days before,” said James Godfrey, spacecraft operations manager at ESA’s mission control center in Darmstadt, Germany, in a statement. “I’m excited to see Mars as it is now — as close to a martian ‘now’ as we can possibly get!”

But haven’t we seen images of Mars before? Yes, but not live, the ESA said.

Often data and observations of the red planet are taken when a spacecraft is not in direct contact with Earth, so the images are stored until they can be sent back, the ESA said.

Depending on where Mars and Earth are in their orbits around the sun, the messages that journey through space can take anywhere from 3 to 22 minutes.

To begin the live stream, the ESA estimates it will take about 17 minutes for the light needed to form the images to travel directly from Mars to Earth and then another minute to get through the wires and servers on the ground, the ESA said.

“Note, we’ve never tried anything like this before, so exact travel times for signals on the ground remain a little uncertain,” the agency said in a statement.