Watch the First Live-Stream From Mars Today

Cancel your viewing plans for Friday. You’re going to want to catch the first-ever live-streamed broadcast from Mars.

In an event that promises to be a worldwide landmark, if not exactly scintillating television, the European Space Agency (ESA) will stream a one-hour segment from a camera aboard its Mars Express orbiter on YouTube.

The show goes live today, June 2, at 4 pm GMT.

If it works, that is.

The broadcast marks the occasion of the Mars Express’ 20th “birthday.” It’s been out there orbiting the Red Planet for a long time, and so has the equipment on board. The camera that will be doing the work, called the Visual Monitoring Camera, isn’t exactly a cinema-grade 4K rig.

“This is an old camera, originally planned for engineering purposes, at a distance of almost three million kilometers from Earth,” James Godfrey, Spacecraft Operations Manager at ESA mission control, pointed out in a statement. “This hasn’t been tried before and to be honest, we’re not 100 percent certain it’ll work.”

Still, it’s the first time in human history we’ll be able to witness Mars on a “live” basis. Usually, visual content from the fourth planet filters in over days at a time. The only delay in the broadcast will be the time it takes for light to travel from the Mars Express back to ESA’s dishes in Darmstadt, Germany.

Godfrey signed off in the space agency’s statement with giddy excitement.

“I’m pretty optimistic. I’m excited to see Mars as it is now — as close to a Martian ‘now’ as we can possibly get!” he said.

It won’t be tantamount to standing on the surface of our celestial neighbor — but at the least, it’s one small step. Tune in to make history.

Sam Anderson

Sam Anderson takes any writing assignments he can talk his way into while intermittently traveling the American West and Mexico in search of margaritas — er, adventure. He parlayed a decade of roving trade work into a life of fair-weather rock climbing and truck dwelling before (to his parents’ evident relief) finding a way to put his BA in English to use. Sam loves animals, sleeping outdoors, campfire refreshments and a good story.