8K views of Mars on the menu for Martian moon mission spacecraft


This illustration shows MMX in orbit around Mars with the moon Phobos in view.


Most of us on Earth are still coming to grips with 4K video and images, much less insanely high resolution 8K ones. Hopefully, we’ll all have the gear to properly see the eye-popping views expected from Japan’s future Martian Moons Exploration (MMX) mission.

Japan’s space agency JAXA announced last week it’s working with Japan Broadcasting Corporation (NHK) to develop a “Super Hi-Vision Camera” that can capture 4K and 8K images from Mars. 

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MMX is already an ambitious project aimed at studying the Martian moons Phobos and Deimos, as well as Mars itself. The spacecraft is designed to land on Phobos, gather up a surface sample and bring it back to Earth.

JAXA and NHK are thinking through the hurdles of sending large amounts of data back to Earth and have hit on a solution. “Images taken at regular intervals are partially transmitted to Earth to create a smooth image,” JAXA said in a statement. “The original image data is planned to be stored in a recording device in MMX’s return capsule and brought back to Earth.”

By combining high-def images with the spacecraft’s flight data, JAXA and NHK will be able to show the spacecraft’s journey in unprecedented detail. Imagine a view of Mars rising behind the craggy lumps of Phobos. 

MMX is aiming for a 2024 launch. We’ll have to wait a bit to experience the full 8K glory of Mars, but it will be worth it.

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