A day after India launched the Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) released the first images taken of the Red Planet using its onboard Mars Colour Camera. According to ISRO this is the ‘First Light. ISRO Mars Orbiter Mission captures its first image of Mars, taken from a height of 7300 kilometers, with 376 meter spatial resolution.’
A comment, ‘The view is nice up here’, accompanied the image which was also released on ISRO’s Twitter handle.
The camera takes photos in tri-colour and will be used to provide context for the scientific results.
The picture has the characteristic red hue, since the Martian soil is rich in iron. It shows the billions of year old Martian surface with impact craters and possibly heads of dead volcanoes. The dark patch seems to be a mineral rich part or a portion where light has not penetrated when the photo was taken. The streaks with a head in the darkened patch are either large ‘dust devils’ or Martian sand storms that blow over the surface of mars or some artefacts.
Experts say these photos are ‘excellent’ but if co-ordinates were also released by ISRO these would be much more meaningful.
On Wednesday, as India entered the history books with the insertion of MOM into the Martian orbit, Nasa’s 2012 Mars mission Curiosity, Isro’s Mars Orbiter and Nasa’s 2014 Mars mission Maven that entered the Mars orbit September 21, also exchanged fun tweets.
The first tweet by Isro’s Mars Orbiter was in the early hours of Wednesday, soon after entering Mars Orbit, saying, “What is red, is a planet and is the focus of my orbit?”
The Twitter handle of ISRO’s Mars Orbiter Mission has already gained more than 83,000 followers despite just these few tweets. Its profile description reads, “India’s first mission to Mars. Orbiting the Red Planet since Sep 24, 2014. Explorer. Loves science, photography and long cruises.”