Press Release

First Ever: Earth Seen From Mars

By SpaceRef Editor
May 22, 2003
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Earth as seen from Mars

Have you ever wondered what you would see if you were on
Mars looking at the Earth through a small telescope? Now you
can find out, thanks to a unique view of our world recently
captured by NASA’s Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) spacecraft
currently orbiting the Red Planet.

This first-ever image of its kind not only shows Mother Earth
as a tiny alien world in the vast darkness of space, but also
includes a view of the giant planet Jupiter and some of its
larger moons. The camera aboard MGS photographed both planets
in an alignment, as seen in the evening sky of Mars, at 9
a.m. EDT, May 8, 2003.

“From our Mars orbital-camera perspective, we’ve spent the
last six-and-a-half years staring at Mars right in front of
us,” said Dr. Michael Malin, president and chief scientist of
Malin Space Science Systems (MSSS), of San Diego, who
operates the camera aboard MGS. “Taking this picture allowed
us to look up from that work of exploring Mars and take in a
more panoramic view. This image gives us a new perspective on
that neighborhood, one in which we can see our own planet as
one among many.”

Earth as seen from Mars

The image of Earth actually shows our home as a planetary
disk, in a “half-Earth” phase. The image has been specially
processed to allow both Earth and the much darker Moon to be
visible together. The bright area at the top of the image of
Earth is cloud cover over central and eastern North America.
Below that, a darker area includes Central America and the
Gulf of Mexico. The bright feature near the center-right of
the crescent Earth consists of clouds over northern South

The image also shows the Earth-facing hemisphere of the Moon,
since the Moon was on the far side of Earth as viewed from
Mars. The slightly lighter tone of the lower portion of the
image of the Moon results from the large and conspicuous ray
system associated with the crater Tycho.

The image also shows Jupiter and three of the four Galilean
satellites: Callisto, Ganymede, and Europa. At the time,
Jupiter’s giant red spot had rotated out of view, and, the
other so-called Galilean satellite, Io, was behind Jupiter as
seen from Mars. This image has been specially processed to
show both Jupiter and its satellites, since Jupiter was much
brighter than the three satellites.

Earth as seen from Mars

Mars Global Surveyor, one of the most successful missions to
Mars ever undertaken, has been orbiting the red planet since
September 1997. The mission has examined the entire martian
surface and provided a wealth of information, including some
stunning high-resolution imagery, about the planet’s
atmosphere and interior.

Evaluation of landing sites for NASA’s two Mars Exploration
Rover missions and the British Beagle 2 lander mission has
relied heavily on mineral mapping, detailed imagery and
topographic measurements by MGS. NASA’s Mars Exploration
Rovers and the European Space Agency’s Mars Express mission,
which carries the Beagle 2 mission, are due to launch this
summer and arrive at Mars starting late December 2003 through
January 2004.

The Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., manages
Mars Global Surveyor for NASA’s Office of Space Science in
Washington. JPL is a division of the California Institute of
Technology in Pasadena. JPL’s industrial partner is Lockheed
Martin Astronautics, Denver, which developed and operates the
spacecraft. Malin Space Science Systems and the California
Institute of Technology built the Mars Orbiter Camera, and
MSSS operates the camera from its facilities in San Diego,

The image is available on the Internet at:

SpaceRef staff editor.