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12/19/2003
12:18 PM
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Streaming Mars

Speedera Networks is providing high-performance content-delivery services to help the European Space Agency stream video from its Mars Express probe back to Earth on Christmas Eve.

When the European Space Agency's Mars Express probe lands on Christmas Eve, a huge audience of earthlings will be watching. To ensure that millions of viewers encounter a quality multimedia experience, the ESA has enlisted the services of Dutch systems integrator Capcave B.V., which in turn brought in Speedera Networks Inc. of Santa Clara, Calif., to provide high-performance content-delivery services.

Mars Express promises to provide the most detailed view yet of the Red Planet. Its lander, called Beagle 2, was released on Friday and is scheduled to land on Mars on Christmas Eve (EST). It will scour the surface for water and life forms, and those images will be streamed to the ESA site ( www.esa.int ). The probe, built for the ESA by a consortium of European companies, is equipped with scientific instruments that will be used to perform remote-sensing experiments designed to shed new light on Mars' structure, geology, and atmosphere, as well as its potential for supporting life.

The last time images from Mars' surface were made widely available on the Internet was during the exploration mission of NASA's Mars Pathfinder lander in 1996, but streaming technologies at that time made it a challenge to view images, much less video. Mars-watchers may get further opportunity to view images of the planet online when NASA's Spirit rover, launched in June, arrives in mid-2004.

Capcave is working with the ESA to manage the video and images captured by Mars Express and make sure that content, as well as the ESA network, is configured to deliver the best possible multimedia streaming quality. Speedera's content-delivery service uses servers located on multiple networks around the world, routing users' requests for content to the closest available server.

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