[FPSPACE] Mars-3 "image"

Chris Jones clj@panix.com
Thu, 29 Jan 2004 14:59:30 -0500

Geert Sassen wrote:

> There has been a lot of discussion in the past on that picture. I seem 
> to remember that original members of the Mars-3 lander team stated the ' 
> picture'  is showing nothing but noise, the craft was transmitting but 
> the camera's were not (yet?) online when all contact was lost.
> A very good article by Don Mitchell on Soviet camera systems is at:
> http://www.mentallandscape.com/V_Cameras.htm
> Quoting from this page:

> Mars-3 was the first spacecraft to land on the red planet, in 1971. Two 
> cycloramic cameras were installed, side by side for stereo imaging as on 
> Luna-13. Like the second generation lunar cameras, they probably had 
> 5006000 pixel resolution, and scanned at 4 lines per second. The radio 
> link between lander and orbiter was 72,000 bits/sec, which implies the 
> video signal may have been digital like the later Venera-9 system.
> Unfortunately, contact with the lander was lost after only returning 15 
> to 20 seconds of video from each camera. This fragmentary image has been 
> reported to be featureless. Two inconsistent versions of this image have 
> been published, one of which appears to show the Martian horizon. This 
> is doubtful, since the camera scanned vertically, not horizontally, and 
> its radio connection would not have worked if it has been tipped onto 
> its side.

Philip Clark wrote:

 > I wonder how many people would dispute the validity of the Mars 3 image
 > from the martian surface if it had been from a US spacecraft ?

Of course you do, but does it matter?  What did the picture tell us?

 > As an OU graduate, I have noticed a certain US-bias against the OU-led
 > Beagle-2 mission.   Well, whatever you may say about the British Mars
 > lander, at least we knew that miles differed from kilometers (kilometres),
 > unlike the superior Americans !

Bias?  You mean a tendency to believe without evidence?  Yup, it happens to
all of us, we should fight it every day.  I try, and I don't think I'm
necessarily any better than anyone else.

And HOW does thinking that way make you happier?  Do you want to find out
about Mars and stuff, or do you want to point fingers?  Where I come from,
OU means Ohio University, but I'm guessing, just a hunch, I may be right or
wrong, that you mean Oxford.  It's hard enough keeping our furlongs from
getting mixed up with with our versts without confusing acronyms to spin our
heads.  Why can't everyone screech plain, simple, unencumbered or ornamented
English, fer Chrissake?  If it was good enough for Confucius, it's good
enough for ME!!!

You know, it's almost like some people WANT to believe that the cameras
didn't work, and SOME people want to believe that they did.  Unfortunately,
we have the evidence of our own eyes to help us, but we know that's
misleading, so we try to make sense with what we have.  Which may be
information.  Or noise.  We might be seeing Mars, but I can get better
pictures than that by closing my eyes and pressing my thumbs against my
forehead.  So, what did Mars 3 tell us about landing on Mars and taking
pictures and beaming them back to Earth?  It's hard.  Well, we shoulda known
THAT before we sent our robots.  Better luck next time.  Try harder.  Get
lucky.  Be smart.  And careful.  And we didn't need Beagle for that, did we?
I hope it turns out that the odd Brit Beagles are good and it's only the
even ones that are jinxed (or better yet, only the even prime ones), but
we'll see.

Ad astra, every one!