ISRO has released an image of Mars captured by the Mars Colour Camera (MCC), an imaging instrument on board the Mars Orbiter Mission (MoM) orbiter, also known as Mangalyaan, India’s first interplanetary space mission. The image was captured on 9 November, from an altitude of 42,433 kilometers above the surface of the Red Planet, with an imaging resolution of 2.2 kilometers.
A number of volcanic summits in the Tharsis region can be seen in the image, including Olympus mons, Arsia mons, Pavonis mons and Ascraeus mons.
Ascraeus mons, Pavonis mons and Arsia mons are three volcanic mounts in a straight line, with Arsia mons barely visible towards the top edge of the planet. Towards the top right edge is the Olympus mons, it is the tallest mountain in the solar system, as well as the largest known volcano. The summit of Olympus mons is more than two and a half times higher than Mt Everest. The Tharsis region and the volcanoes can be explored on Google Maps. The arrow points to a cloud formation around Ascraeus mons.
Although the MoM mission had a planned duration of only 6 months, the spacecraft continues to observe Mars even after three years in orbit, which it celebrated in September this year.
The mission was launched on India’s workhorse rocket, the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) from Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh on 5 November, 2013. In January this year, the orbital path of the spacecraft was adjusted to elongate the mission as the spacecraft would have failed to function after spending eight hours in the shadow of Mars, without its solar panels being exposed to sunlight.
ISRO has a lineup of future interplanetary missions planned, including follow up missions to the Mars and the Moon, as well as a maiden mission to Venus.
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