After the rovers ‘Spirit’ and ‘Opportunity’ landed on Mars in January 2004, international excitement was so great that NASA received over 6.5 billion hits on its website in less than two months. Helping the wildly popular Mars program get off the ground, so to speak, were some calculations of an Israeli scientist, Prof. Joseph Appelbaum of Tel Aviv University, along with colleagues at NASA.
Even as the Mars Exploration Rover is producing breathtaking results during its current operation on Mars, Israeli researchers are pushing the envelope and planning for the next level of unmanned missions. At the College of Judea and Samaria in Ariel, a research team is in the midst of a project to build a new self-navigating space vehicle to roam the surface of Mars.
Research by three scientists from the Haifa Technion made the transmission of video pictures from Mars by the NASA explorer “Spirit” possible, according to HP (Hewlett Packard) Labs, which was responsible for the image transmissions. The ability to transmit the images was feasible thanks to a unique algorithm developed by Technion graduates living in the US as a continuation of work launched by two other Technion professors a quarter of a century ago.