India’s Mars Orbiter Mission(MOM) is unaffected by the deadly dust storm which has hit planet Mars over the last few days. According to ISRO officials, the storm, which has engulfed a quarter of the Martian surface, which forced NASA’s Opportunity Rover to suspend its operations poses no threat to MoM.
Dr M Annadurai, director of UR Rao Satellite Centre and MOM project director when the mission was launched in 2013, said that the MOM spacecraft was in fine health despite the storm.“We (MOM) are at a higher altitude and unlike the Opportunity Rover, it is not on the surface. The MOM spacecraft is circling the Red Planet in an orbit with a periareion (nearest point to Mars) of about 300 km. So there is no danger to the spacecraft,” Annadurai told Bangalore Mirror.
The spacecraft is orbiting Mars in a highly elliptical orbit characterized by nearest point to Mars at around 300 km and farthest point (apoapsis) at 71,000 km.
Annadurai added that the MOM’s cameras could see the dust caused by the storm and that it would capture them and send the images back soon.One of MOM’s payloads, the Mars Colour Camera, has captured and sent hundreds of images so far.
According to ISRO, the tri-color camera gives images and information about the surface features and composition of the planet’s surface. Besides, they are useful to monitor the dynamic events and weather of Mars.
NASA, too, is using the dust storm to learn about the dust, apart from the Opportunity Rover, three orbiters belonging to the US space agency is circling Mars, equipped with special cameras and other atmospheric instruments.
NASA launched the Opportunity rover in 2003 and it has been on the Martian surface since 2004.
Intended to only have a mission life of six months, MOM India’s maiden mission has defied all odds and completed three-and-half years in the Martian orbit. Annadurai said that there was no stopping the spacecraft and that it would continue to carry out its mission objectives.
By: Bangalore Mirror
Categories: Sci & Tech