India’s space agency has released a blurry image of Mars pockmarked with giant craters, taken by the country’s first interplanetary spacecraft after it began orbiting the red planet.
|[Source: ISRO/ Twitter]|
The image released on Thursday was taken while the Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), also dubbed “Mangalyaan” was about 7,300km from the planet’s surface, according to the Indian Space and Research Organisation (ISRO). It took at least 12 minutes for the digital data to reach Earth.
ISRO scientists released the image after first bringing it to New Delhi to show to Prime Miniser Narendra Modi, who had spent Wednesday morning witnessing the satellite’s last manoeuvres into orbit from the space agency’s Mars command centre in the southern city of Bangalore.
The scientists tweeted under a special mission profile @MarsOrbiter, which has gained more than 95,000 followers since being set up on Tuesday.
“The view is nice up here,” the scientists tweeted. Modi responded through his Twitter feed, saying he agreed.
The satellite will spend the next six months on an elliptical orbit – coming as close as 365km and swinging out to 80,000km at its farthest – as it collects scientific data on the Martian atmosphere.
India was enthralled with the mission’s success. Indian newspapers on Thursday ran front-page stories and two-page spreads detailing the mission.