• Gary Cox

Filmmaking On Mars

It’s an extremely exciting time for space travel. We, as a world are on the brink of true commercial space travel and hopefully, just a few years from making a human mission to mars, a reality. That got us thinking, how are we documenting all of this and on what equipment? Also, why do we have no footage of Mars, besides sometime laps. We have footage from the moon, but not from the Mars rovers. Here at Film Circuit and Northward Films, we wanted answers, and this is what we found.

As filmmakers, we are curious about how organizations and explorers document their adventures. We are fascinated by all kinds of camera technologies. Cameras are at the heart of visual storytelling. Every mission into space, or to the depths of the ocean is documented with some kind of camera equipment. That documentation tells a story. From the earliest space probes to the Mars rovers. Camera technology is advancing at an incredible rate. So why haven’t we gotten actual footage from Mars? We got footage from the moon landing 51 years ago That’s over half a century. We do have one clip from Mars, it was the landing of the Curiosity rover on August 6th 2012.

It is truly amazing, but besides that, what we have are close to video, but they’re just time lapses, a very quick series of stills. We do have some incredibly high resolution images of Mars as well as some actual audio. (insert audio) So, why no video? (Reddit article and quotes) Video footage requires much higher data transmission rates than still images, and it can take several hours for NASA to receive just one high-resolution color image from Mars. Engineers are looking at switching from radio to infrared communication, because the much shorter wavelength offers far higher data rates. The next generation of Mars landers may then send back HD video imagery direct from the Red Planet.” - Robert Matthews for sciencefocus.com  Currently there are four rovers on Mars Sojourner, Spirit, Opportunity, and Curiosity. Each with varying camera equipment.  Speaking of cameras on Mars, the next rover to join the Martian crew is the Mars 2020 Rover Perseverance. This rover will have a whopping 23 cameras on board. 9 for engineering, 7 science cameras, and 7 entry, descent, and landing cameras. Yes, we should be getting real video footage of Mars relatively soon. “For the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover, the engineering team is adding several cameras and a microphone to document entry, descent and landing in even greater detail. They will shoot full-color video of Mars 2020 throughout its descent to the Martian surface. Some of what the cameras see on the way down will help mission planners decide on the rover's first drives.” www.Mars.Nasa.Gov Perseverance will be launching on July 17th and will arrive at the Red Planet in February 18th 2021. Why would we want footage of Mars? Like movies or the ever-popular and growing library of ambient videos on YouTube, sounds and video would help us feel a little more connected to the Red Planet and maybe even spur more public interest in our small neighbor. We would have the opportunity as a species to experience another world like we never have before. Side note, Tom Cruise is planning to shoot a movie aboard the ISS. Maybe the moon or Mars is next? “ Will Mars some day be a real location for shooting? Can you imagine? A location scout for Mars? 

For now, we have some amazing panoramas of Mars, actual audio, and the landing footage of Curiosity. Which, by themselves is pretty great. We’ll just have to wait until February 2021 to get some more breathtaking footage of the mysterious red planet. 

Personally, I think that someday we will have a whole library of footage of our solar system and all of us will feel a little more connected to our solar community. As always thank you so much for reading, don’t forget to leave a comment. Answer this question, Which planet do you want actual video of and why? Thank you again and have a good day.

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