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Indian Spacecraft Snaps Spectacular Portrait of Mars (Photo)

This spectacular view of Mars from India's Mangalyaan spacecraft shows active dust storms in the Red Planet's northern hemisphere. This photo was released on Sept. 29, 2014, less than a week after the Indian Mars orbiter arrived at the planet.
This spectacular view of Mars from India's Mangalyaan spacecraft shows active dust storms in the Red Planet's northern hemisphere. This photo was released on Sept. 29, 2014, less than a week after the Indian Mars orbiter arrived at the planet. (Image credit: Indian Space Research Organisation)

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. 

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Tariq Malik

Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of Space.com and joined the team in 2001 as a staff writer, and later editor, covering human spaceflight, exploration and space science. He became Space.com's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining Space.com, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter.