Mangalyaan sends picture of Mars’ moon Phobos

  • Vanita Srivastava, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Oct 15, 2014 02:22 IST

India’s maiden spacecraft to Mars, Mangalyaan, has captured the image of Phobos, the larger and closer of the two natural satellites of the Red Planet.

Both moons of Mars were discovered in 1877. Phobos, a small, irregularly shaped object with a mean radius of 11km, is seven times larger than Mars' outer moon, Deimos.

“The larger of the two Martian moons, Phobos, is seen travelling west to east over Mars in its typical orbit. The images were taken from an altitude of 66,275km,” Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) said on Facebook on Tuesday.

On October 7, Mangalyaan had sent a full disc image of Mars, taken by the Mars Color Camera, from an altitude of 66,543km.

The spacecraft had beamed its first photos of Mars’ crater-marked surface a day after India successfully put the probe into the Red Planet’s orbit.

Soon after, Isro had uploaded the regional dust storm activities over northern hemisphere of the Red Planet, captured by Mars Colour Camera. The image was taken from an altitude of 74,500km from the surface of Mars.

India joined an exclusive global club of deep space explorers on September 24 when the indigenously made spacecraft successfully slipped into the orbit around Mars after a 10-month journey on a relatively shoe-string budget.

Mangalyaan's scientific goals include using five solar-powered instruments to gather data that will help determine how Mars weather systems work and what happened to the water that is believed to have once existed on the planet in large quantities.

It will also search Mars for methane, a key chemical in life processes on Earth that could also come from geological processes.

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