Spacecraft takes picture of spacecraft on alien world

Grainy Mars Orbiter pictureCourtesy NASA

For the first time ever, a spacecraft has taken a picture of another spacecraft orbiting around another planet. The Mars Global Surveyor, which has been floating around Mars since 1997, was able to take this grainy picture of its sister probe, Odyssey. Odyssey arrived at Mars in 2001. It's exciting to be able to see evidence of our successful missions to another planet beamed back from millions of miles away.

In the future these probes may be able to take pictures of fellow spacecraft to help us fix problems and guide discovery. Imagine if a lander got lost on the Martian surface: orbiting probes might be able to tell us back here on Earth what happened, and where things went wrong. This sort of interaction between probes will be essential for our further exploration of the universe, especially to places where humans might not be able to travel.

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Joe's picture
Joe says:

The Mars Global Surveyor has also taken several pictures of past landers on the Mars surface. The goal of these types of photos is to place the landers into a geological context, which helps scientists to understand the results these landers have returned. So far, the Mars Global Surveyor has taken images of Viking Lander 1, Viking Lander 2, Mars Pathfinder, and both Mars Exploration Rovers, Opportunity and Spirit.

It is even possible that the Mars Global Surveyor has found the location of the Mars Polar Lander, which was a failed mission that lost contact with Earth in December of 1999. Finding the lost lander will help determine where the mission may have gone wrong.

NASA is taking requests for what the Mars Global Surveyor to take pictures of next. To make your own request visit Mars Orbiter Camera Target Request Site.

posted on Fri, 05/20/2005 - 11:24am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

How do thay know that?

posted on Fri, 04/07/2006 - 7:18pm
bryan kennedy's picture

Thanks, Joe. And for some more interesting Mars pictures from the Mars Obiter, check out the Mars Orbiter Camera Library
Images of Martian Surface
bryan kennedy
Science Buzz Site Admin

posted on Fri, 05/20/2005 - 2:44pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

it is very amazing to see such a nice picture -

posted on Sat, 05/21/2005 - 6:50pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

wow that is awesome, maybe will someday be able to find that there is other life out there!!!!

posted on Sun, 05/22/2005 - 12:44pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Has Pathfinder ever taken a picture of Viking 1 or 2?

posted on Fri, 12/16/2005 - 12:21pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

No. The Pathfinder project team chose landing sites different from the Viking group. They wanted sites that had more geologic diversity, while the Viking group's primary focus was on finding a safe landing spot. The Viking landers are hundreds or thousands of miles away from where the Pathfinders landed. It is doubtful that the Pathfinders would even be able to make that long of a journey, even if it were desired.

posted on Sat, 12/17/2005 - 6:34pm
Richard's picture
Richard says:

Too bad, could you imagine the pulic relations coup that would ensue if one of them drove up to one of the Vikings? It'd be like when Apollo 12 landed next to that old Surveyor.

posted on Thu, 01/05/2006 - 3:26am
bryan kennedy's picture

Hmm, I don't toally get what you mean. I read up a bit on the Apollo 12 mission and it seems to me that one of thier goals was to see how close they could land next to the Surveyor. If you check, back explain what you meant, I'm probably just not getting it.

posted on Thu, 01/05/2006 - 11:24am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

thats cool\r\n

posted on Sat, 01/14/2006 - 4:30pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

congratulations you win a big smile

posted on Sat, 06/17/2006 - 11:29am
A Person's picture
A Person says:

Why is it that all these things that some people beleive and some don't (i beleive) all the pictures are blury?!

posted on Sun, 01/07/2007 - 3:17pm
Joe's picture
Joe says:

Well, that's becuase this picture was taken when the two spacecraft were about 56 miles away from each other and orbiting Mars at hundreds of miles an hour, each. Mars Global Surveyor and Odyssey are both in nearly circular, near-polar orbits with Odyssey in a slightly higher orbit so they don't crash into one another.

posted on Tue, 10/16/2007 - 9:37am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

its fake

posted on Tue, 03/13/2007 - 12:25pm
SkistigiskiFriend's picture
SkistigiskiFriend says:

Hi there!

Wow, I really enjoyed this!You're the bomb!

I've been reading for a while, but this time I wanted to give you a thumbs up!

Way to go!

See ya,


posted on Thu, 07/26/2007 - 6:17am