First pictures from Mars arrive, Mangalyaan 'doing well'

  • Sudipto Mondal/ Vanita Srivastava, Hindustan Times, Bangalore/ New Delhi
  • Updated: Sep 26, 2014 01:00 IST

The Mangalyaan spacecraft beamed its first photos of Mars' crater-marked surface on Thursday, a day after India successfully put the probe into the red planet's orbit.

The Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) posted one of the photos, titled First Light, on its Facebook page, showing an orange surface with dark cavities, taken from a distance of 7,300 km. Isro also posted the photo on Twitter with the note, "The view is nice up here."

An Isro team led by agency chief K Radhakrishnan met the Prime Minister in Delhi on Thursday with hard copies of all the pictures taken by the Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) probe. The space agency will release all the photographs this afternoon.

Photo courtesy: Isro's Facebook page

Isro officials said the photos proved that Mangalyaan is in "good health" and performing its duties well.

"Images are clicked. Data is downloaded. Process is going on," a senior Isro official told HT.

The probe has been placed in an elliptical orbit around Mars and it will be closest to the planet at 377 km and farthest at 80,000 km.

India joined an exclusive global club of deep space explorers on Wednesday when the indigenously-made Mangalyaan spacecraft successfully slipped into the orbit around Mars after a 10-month journey on a relatively shoe-string budget.

The Mars Orbiter Mission, nicknamed MOM, cost just Rs 450 core, about a tenth of the amount US space agency NASA spent on sending the Maven spacecraft to Mars and about three-quarters the amount to make the Oscar-winning movie Gravity about astronauts stranded in space.

The 1,350-kilogram orbiter will now circle the planet for at least six months, with solar-powered instruments gathering scientific data that may shed light on Martian weather systems as well as what happened to the water that is believed to have existed once on Mars.

It will also search Mars for methane, a key chemical in life processes on earth that could come from geological processes. None of the instruments will send back enough information to answer these questions definitively, but experts say the data will help them better understand how planets form and what conditions might make life possible.

The image showed an orange surface with dark cavities. “The view is nice up here,” Isro said on Twitter.

Full coverage: From India to Mars

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