After being in orbit for just 4 days, India’s Mangalyaan spacecraft manages to capture a spectacular photo of Mars.
A photo taken from India’s Mangalyaan spacecraft was unveiled yesterday, just days after the spacecraft began orbiting the Red Planet on its maiden voyage. Launched in November 2013 by India’s Space Research Organisation (ISRO), the Mangalyaan (Sanskrit for “Mars Craft”) reached Mars on September 24th.
“Something’s brewing here!” ISRO officials wrote in a Twitter post for the Mars orbiter.
Something’s brewing here! pic.twitter.com/ecX1t6onXp
— ISRO’s Mars Orbiter (@MarsOrbiter) September 29, 2014
The photo released shows Mars as a breathtaking red sphere in space, nearly in its entirety. A huge dust storm can be seen blanketing part of the northern region, while the planet’s southern ice cap remains clearly visible. Mangalyaan is expected to remain in orbit for 6 to 10 months, circling the Red Planet in an orbit that brings the spacecraft within 227 miles (365 km) of the planet at its closest approach and 49,710 miles (80,000 km) at its farthest point.
In Good Company
The spacecraft is the centerpiece of India’s $74 million Mars Orbiter Mission and joins NASA’s MAVEN orbiter, which arrived at the Red Planet on its own mission from the U.S. just days prior. Whether or not it is a coincidence that Mangalyaan and MAVEN have met up on their missions to Mars remains to be seen, but the coinciding missions do come at a time when there is talk of a renewed U.S.-India partnership in the making.
“[The fact] that we both have satellites orbiting Mars tells its own story,” said Narendra Modi and Barack Obama, in a joint editorial in the Washington Post. “The promise of a better tomorrow is not solely for Indians and Americans: It also beckons us to move forward together for a better world. This is the central premise of our defining partnership for the 21st century. Forward together we go — chalein saath saath.”