India's spacecraft beams back first Mars photos

September 25, 2014 by Gulab Chand
One of the first images taken by the ISRO Mars Orbiter Mission spacecraft, released on September 25, 2014, shows the surface of Mars seen from a height of 7,300m

India's spacecraft has beamed back its first photos of Mars, showing its crater-marked surface, as the country glowed with pride Thursday after winning Asia's race to the Red Planet.

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) uploaded one of the photos to its Facebook page, showing an orange surface with dark holes, taken from a height of 7,300 kilometres (4,536 miles).

ISRO also posted the photo on Twitter, with the caption "The view is nice up here".

The organisation's senior scientist V. Koteswara Rao said the spacecraft, called the Mars Orbiter Mission, has taken a dozen photos and that everything was working well.

"The Mars colour camera on board started working soon after Orbiter stabilised in the elliptical orbit of Mars and has taken a dozen quality pictures of its surface and its surroundings," Rao told AFP.

"The camera will also take images of the Red Planet's two moons and beam them to our deep space network centre," he added, referring to the base near the southern city of Bangalore.

"Health and other parameters of the spacecraft are fine and all the essential functions are performing normally."

Supremacy in Asia

India became the first Asian country to reach Mars on Wednesday when the unmanned Mangalyaan spacecraft entered the planet's orbit after a 10-month journey, all on a shoestring budget.

The mission, which is designed to search for evidence of life on the planet, is a huge source of national pride for India as it competes with Asian rivals for success in space.

An Indian Space Research Organisation official uses a scale model of the Mars Orbiter Mission spacecraft to explain how parts of the orbiter works, at the ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network in Bangalore on September 15, 2014

India beat rival neighbour China, whose first attempt flopped in 2011 despite the Asian superpower pouring billions of dollars into its programme.

At just $74 million, India's mission cost less than the estimated $100 million budget of the sci-fi blockbuster "Gravity".

It also represents just a fraction of the cost of NASA's $671 million MAVEN spacecraft, which successfully began orbiting the fourth planet from the sun on Sunday.

India now joins an elite club of the United States, Russia and Europe who can boast of reaching Mars. More than half of all missions to the planet have ended in failure.

No single nation had previously succeeded on its first go, although the European Space Agency, which represents a consortium of countries, pulled off the feat at its first attempt.

Scientists presented the Mars photos on Thursday to Prime Minister Narendra Modi who was on hand in the command centre to witness the achievement.

"The success of our space programme is a shining symbol of what we are capable of as a nation," a jubilant Modi said on Wednesday.

The mission's success received front-page coverage in Indian newspapers Thursday, with the Hindustan Times declaring "MARTIAN RACE WON" and the Times of India, "India enters super exclusive Mars club."

Indians, from government ministers to office workers and cricketers poured onto Twitter to show their national pride, while school students celebrated by eating traditional Indian sweets.

"The space exploration arena is getting crowded and it is important to be ahead of your competition," the Hindustan Times said in an editorial.

"India, by becoming the first Asian country to launch a successful Mars mission, has taken the wind out of the sails of nations like China, Japan and South Korea," it said.

Critics of the programme say a country that struggles to feed its people adequately and where roughly half have no toilets should not be splurging on space travel.

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vlaaing peerd
5 / 5 (9) Sep 25, 2014
Hats off to India! regardless of the criticism, they did it and I think this investment will be one worth while.
1 / 5 (7) Sep 25, 2014
Starting from Apollos, we are now bombarded with Space Projects around the world everyday. Just Food, Clothing and Roof alone are not enough. There are many more that have kept adding up as Essential as Generations change, I would say, every 25 years. Now, Earth alone is not enough; Other Planets too have started to become being Necessary...If not Essential! There are more facets to life of any Society. 2 genders, children, Life past middle ages with diseases added to the mix and of course, Old ages right on path to the grave. All of these sectors are getting burdened in some newer ways. Children being burdened with need to acquire additional knowledge than earlier times...with no self-less parents to guide them at all...left with not that concerned, paid employees. Some break the life cycle of the Society with no children...Even those Children, if any, being busily burdened with their own affairs! It is thrilling to educate oneself with loans & working hard at youthful ages but as diseases catch on with advancing ages, if not attacking all gets more & more of a task!
5 / 5 (11) Sep 25, 2014
Starting from Apollos, we are now bombarded ...

Jeez, man...lay of the meds. What a confused jumble of words.
1 / 5 (11) Sep 25, 2014
And the New Phenomenon of this Millennium, rather these 2 Cenuries.... Gays make the Life of the Sociey Essentially a Single Gender & Childless....Breaking the Life Cycle of the Society!
2 / 5 (5) Sep 25, 2014
India's greater achievement than this was kicking out an empire without firing a single shot from their end. And it only cost them three things: a loin cloth, a bespectacled, and a pair of sandals. No other nations has ever achieved such power.

And if I was England I would be hiding under the rug.
1 / 5 (5) Sep 25, 2014
India's greater achievement than this was kicking out an empire without firing a single shot from their end. And it only cost them three things: a loin cloth, a bespectacled, and a pair of sandals. No other nations has ever achieved such power. And if I was England I would be hiding under the rug.

5 / 5 (3) Sep 25, 2014
Fantastic achievement by India, they deserve all the praise they get. Obviously MAVEN is bigger and more specialized, but just making the trip and for under 100 million is truly impressive.

More interplanetary space missions can only be a good thing.
1 / 5 (3) Sep 25, 2014
Labour costs in India are significantly lower than in the USA.
1.5 / 5 (4) Sep 25, 2014
I imagine it will be India or China that actually find examples of life in the solar system that once existed or still exists as microbes for the simple reason they do not hold so sacred the Western ideas regarding human contamination.

We in the West, have purposely avoided going to the places most likely to find surviving life on Mars (like the Hellas basin the only place on the planet where water can exist at its triple point or the likely mud volcanoes of the northern plains) in order to avoid contaminating those sites with earth microbes hardy enough to survive the trip.

Neither Indian nor Chinese culture believe as the Westerners often do that humans are apart from nature, and anything from Earth is a contamination.

As a result when they are ready to look on their own, they will probably chose the MOST likely site to find life on Mars or Europa and if it's there find it, because they see the whole philosophy that treats Earth like an interloper in its own system absurd.
not rated yet Sep 29, 2014
The important point for me is that space exploration can be done with a tiny fraction of the actual expenses. That's India lesson.
I wonder where does all that money go?

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