MOM is truly something special.
For her latest eye popping feat, India’s Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) has snapped the first global portrait of her new Home – the Red Planet.
MOM is India’s first interplanetary voyager and took the stupendous new image on Sept. 28, barely four days after her historic arrival on Sept. 23/24 following the successful Mars Orbital Insertion (MOI) braking maneuver.
The MOM orbiter was designed and developed by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), India’s space agency, which released the image on Sept. 29.
Even more impressive is that MOM’s Martian portrait shows a dramatic view of a huge dust storm swirling over a large patch of the planet’s Northern Hemisphere against the blackness of space. Luckily, NASA’s Opportunity and Curiosity surface rovers are nowhere nearby.
“Something’s brewing here!” ISRO tweeted.
The southern polar ice cap is also clearly visible.
It was taken by the probe’s on-board Mars Color Camera from a very high altitude of 74,500 kilometers.
When MOM met Mars, the thrusters placed the probe into a highly elliptical orbit whose nearest point to Mars (periapsis) is at 421.7 km and farthest point (apoapsis) at 76,993.6 km. The inclination of the orbit with respect to the equatorial plane of Mars is 150 degrees, as intended, ISRO reported.
So the Red Planet portrait was captured nearly at apoapsis.
This is the third MOM image released by ISRO thus far, and my personal favorite. And its very reminiscent of whole globe Mars shots taken by Hubble.
MOM’s goal is to study Mars’ atmosphere, surface environments, morphology, and mineralogy with a 15 kg (33 lb) suite of five indigenously built science instruments. It will also sniff for methane, a potential marker for biological activity.
The $73 million mission is expected to last at least six months.
With MOM’s arrival, India became the newest member of an elite club of only four entities who have launched probes that successfully investigated Mars – following the Soviet Union, the United States and the European Space Agency (ESA).
Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Earth and planetary science and human spaceflight news.