The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Japan Broadcasting Corporation (NHK) have joined forces to develop a Super Hi-Vision Camera for JAXA’s Martian Moons eXploration (MMX) mission that will take the first 8K ultra-high-definition images from Mars orbit.
We have come a long way since those grainy images of Apollo 11 back in 1969 and the early images of the Moon and Earth from orbit.
Images from 2012 show the landing sites of the Apollo Mission taken from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.
Today, we see regular 4K videos stream from the International Space Station (ISS), and even from deep space missions like Japan’s Hayabusa2 asteroid landing mission. The pictures from New Horizons of Pluto, Charon and later Ultima Thule provide not only incredible detail but are powerful tools for scientist trying to understand these distant places.
Now, JAXA and NHK plan to develop an 8K “Super Hi-Vision Camera” for the space agency’s MMX mission, which is scheduled to launch in 2024. Slated to take one year to reach Mars, the unmanned mission will go into orbit around the planet to study the Martian moons Phobos and Deimos.
Being built by NHK, the Super Hi-Vision Camera will capture 4K and 8K images, which will be only partially transmitted to Earth. Because of the large file sizes, the complete images won’t be available until the complete image data is brought back to Earth stored in a recording device in the return capsule.
The end result will be a digital recreation of the mission with a detail not previously possible.
First discovered in 1877 and then imaged by Mariner one in 1961 the larger of the two small moons Phobos was images in detail by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter in 2008.
They are among the smallest in the solar system. Phobos is a bit larger than Deimos, and orbits only 6,000 kilometres above the surface. No known moon orbits closer to its planet. It whips around Mars three times a day, while the more distant Deimos takes 30 hours for each orbit. Phobos is gradually spiraling inward, drawing about 1.8 metres closer to the planet each century. Within 50 million years, it will either crash into Mars or break up and form a ring around the planet.
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