India's Mangalyaan Mars Orbiter Returns Stunning Images of Red Planet's Rocky Surface

Friday, 14 August 2015 - 5:38PM
Space Imagery
Mars
Friday, 14 August 2015 - 5:38PM
India's Mangalyaan Mars Orbiter Returns Stunning Images of Red Planet's Rocky Surface
It's almost a year since India's Mangalyaan Mars Orbiter, the nation's first ever Martian space probe, successfully arrived at its destination. Since then, the spacecraft has been gathering an array of science data on Mars, exceeding expectations with every new piece of information it returns. Launching in 2013, Mangalyaan was initially meant as a test of India's rocket propulsion capabilities, and few people expected the experimental probe to actually reach its destination and place India into the select group of nations to have successfully reached Mars. But reach Mars it did, and all on a budget of around $67 million. To put that into perspective, that's less than half the budget of recent Hollywood flop, Fantastic Four, it's also far less than the $720 million NASA is estimated to have spent on getting their Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter to the Red Planet.

While we're not comparing apples to apples there, it's hard to deny that the Indian Space Research Organization's success is pretty impressive. But it's when we look at the fruits of ISRO's labors that their achievement becomes even more apparent. Today, India's independence day, ISRO released a number of images captured by their probe, detailing a deep chasm in the planet's surface.


Detailed in these images is the Ophir Chasma, a deep canyon that runs for over 300km along the Martian surface. The images were taken last month using Mangalyaan's Mars Color Camera, one of two instruments the probe uses to study Mars's surface. As significant as the Ophir Chasma is, it is actually just one part of a network of canyons that is so large that if it was placed on Earth, it would run the entire width of the continental United States.


This is all rather impressive given that many didn't believe Mangalyaan would make it to Mars and that its initial 6 month mission period expired back in March. But despite this remarkable achievement, many people in India feel the nation's exploits in space are a frivolous waste of resources that could be better spent on helping fix India's impoverished populace.

Opening quote
I believe that in a country where 230 million people sleep hungry every night, where basic healthcare, clean water and sanitation facilities are not available… it (the Mars mission) reflects a remarkable indifference to the dignity of the poor. - Activist, Harsh Mander
Closing quote


Despite these protests, the ISRO plan to send a second, better equipped Mangalyaan probe to Mars in the next few years. Until then, you can see a few more shots of the Martian probe captured by Mangalyaan 1, below.





Science
Space
Space Imagery
Mars

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