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Earth or Mars? Astronaut's Reaction While Orbiting 'Red' Planet is as Fascinating as His Capture

Image by @thom_astro
Ver / Instagram.

Image by @thom_astro Ver / Instagram.

'I thought I was orbiting Mars when I saw this view! No cloud in sight and the red and ochre colours stretching to the horizon. This is how I imagine the Perseverance rover would have seen Mars on its approach to landing,' astronaut Thomas Pesquet wrote on Instagram.

When European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet looked at the planet in sight, he got confused for once if he was orbiting the planet he was supposed to. The planet was supposed to be the earth but it looked like Mars. “No clouds in sight and the red and ochre colours stretching to the horizon,” Pesquet wrote in his Instagram post sharing the picture he took aboard the International Space Station orbiting the Earth. In the picture, our planet, which is usually blue, appears red-brown similar to the red planet Mars.

Pesquet wrote that this was how he imagined NASA’s perseverance rover to mars would have seen the red planet when it was landing on the other world’s surface. However, in the picture shared by the astronaut the blue atmospheric glow is still visible, which might have broken the mars-reverie of the astronaut.

The French astronaut, launched from the earth to the ISS on April 23, 2021, is on his second mission Alpha, named after Alpha Centauri. Along with NASA astronauts Megan MacArthur and, Shane Kimbrough and Japanese astronaut Aki Hoshide, Pesquet was carried to space by SpaceX’s rocket Falcon 9, which launched from Florida, United States. The astronauts’ crew will stay in orbit for six months conducting and supporting more than 200 experiments before their return to the earth.

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In his post, Pesquet also gave a shout out to NASA and the Chinese National Space Administration for the successful beginnings of their Mars explorations missions — Perseverance and Zhurong. He also mentioned ESA’s Mars rover ExoMars which is set to launch in September next year. The mars exploration rover, also known as the Rosalind Franklin rover, is a combined mission led by ESA and the Russian space agency Roscosmos State Corporation. The mission is a part of the agencies’ ExoMars programme which aims to investigate signs of past life on the red planet, a goal shared by the two currently active rovers on Mars.

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first published:May 25, 2021, 14:21 IST