India's first spacecraft to visit Mars has beamed home its greatest photo of the Red Planet yet, a view that reveals the planet from pole to pole.
The new photo of Mars from India's Mangalyaan probe was unveiled today (Sept. 29) by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). It shows Mars as a red globe in space, with the planet's southern ice cap clearly visible, while a huge dust storm blankets part of the northern region. "Something's brewing here!" ISRO officials wrote in a Twitter post for the Mars orbiter.
The Mangalyaan spacecraft used its Mars Color Camera to capture the amazing photo from a distance of 46,292 miles (74,500 kilometers) above the Red Planet on Sunday (Sept. 28), according to an ISRO photo description. It is the third and best view of Mars from Mangalyaan since the spacecraft arrived in orbit around the planet last week. The Mars Color Camera is one of five different instruments riding aboard Mangalyaan to study Mars from orbit.
Mangalyaan (the name is Sanskrit for "Mars Craft") is the centerpiece of India's $74 million Mars Orbiter Mission, which launched toward the Red Planet in November 2013 and arrived in orbit on Sept. 24 of this year. The spacecraft arrived at Mars just days after the U.S.-built MAVEN orbiter arrived at the Red Planet on its own mission for NASA.
India's Mars orbiter circles the Red Planet in a highly elliptical orbit that brings the spacecraft within 227 miles (365 km) of the planet at its closest approach. The orbit reaches out 49,710 miles (80,000 km) at its farthest point. The mission is expected to last between six and 10 months.