ISRO’s Mars orbiter has sent down first-day pictures that show the grainy orange Martian terrain. The space agency on Thursday unveiled two of the first five pictures taken by the Mars colour camera. Some more pictures are to be made public on Friday.
Within the first half-hour of going round Mars, the orbiter clicked five pictures each taken five minutes apart. They were received and processed till late night at the Indian Space Science Data Centre for planetary studies at Byalalu near here.
ISRO scientists presented the first images to Prime Minister on Thursday morning before putting them out — notably first on Twitter.
A team of >@isro scientists presented the 1st pictures from >#Mangalyaan today morning. >@isro>pic.twitter.com/sqCRQrhftO— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) >September 25, 2014
The first image shows a Martian surface with a black patch taken from a distance of 7,300 km. The second one, distance unmentioned, was also on Twitter by evening and has a part of the orange orb in the background of deep black space.
“1st image of Mars, from a height of 7300 km; with 376m spatial resolution. MT @MarsOrbiter The view is nice up here,” ISRO tweeted.
To this, Mr. Modi responded, “Yes, I agree @MarsOrbiter, the view is indeed nice up there! @isro.”
Yes, I agree >@MarsOrbiter , the view is indeed nice up there! >@isro>pic.twitter.com/hX3TNd9ggk— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) >September 25, 2014
ISRO’s Scientific Secretary V. Koteswara Rao said over the next seven to 10 days, “we will plan [when] to switch on the [other four] payloads. We are checking the health of the orbiter.” They include the methane sensor for Mars, which is expected to say if Mars ever harboured life.
After the big move of September 24, “35 kg of fuel is left in the orbiter and it should be comfortable for six months,” which is the planned life of the Mars Orbiter Mission, he said.
Post-orbit, the Mars mission team has been collating data from the four ground stations and maintaining the elliptical path, which is 423 km from Mars at the nearest point and 76,000 km at the farther end of the path.
Every three days, the orbiter gets eclipsed and briefly goes without sunlight. The mission team must ensure unhindered operations at that time, an official said.