by Cat Ellen, contributing writer
The skies about Mars may seem a little more crowded this week. Celebrations and congratulations from around the world rang loud and long with the arrival of two more scientific missions: NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) and Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM).
Teams around the world celebrated last week when NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft arrived and successfully entered orbit Sunday night (7:00 p.m. PDT). MAVEN’s mission will pioneer studies of the upper atmosphere of Mars.
“As the first orbiter dedicated to studying Mars’ upper atmosphere, MAVEN will greatly improve our understanding of the history of the Martian atmosphere, how the climate has changed over time, and how that has influenced the evolution of the surface and the potential habitability of the planet,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. “It also will better inform a future mission to send humans to the Red Planet in the 2030s.”
- Watch the full MAVEN Post-Mars Orbit Insertion News Conference (25:28)
Just eight hours after entering orbit, MAVEN’s imaging ultraviolet spectrograph sent various images of the Martian atomsphere which were selected as NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day (APoD). Imagery captured for analysis included the hydrogen, oxygen, and reflected sunlight above Mars.
Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) not only successfully entering orbit around Mars on September 24, but has distinguished India as the first country to do so on a maiden voyage. ISRO can also proudly claim to be the fourth agency to successfully bring a spacecraft into orbit around Mars.
India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, was on hand at ISRO Mission Control in Bangalore for the event, and after its success, gave a rousing speech, brimming with national pride, and he commended the ISRO team:
“To the scientists at ISRO, you have made it a habit of achieving the impossible! You have that self-reliance … often in the face of hostile circumstances … You have honored our forefathers and inspired our future generations. You truly deserve all the love and admiration you get from a proud nation … the success of our space program is a symbol of what we are capable of as a nation.”
Celebrations in India were broadcast live and images tweeted such as these.
“We congratulate the Indian Space Research Organisation for its successful arrival at Mars with the Mars Orbiter Mission,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. “It was an impressive engineering feat, and we welcome India to the family of nations studying another facet of the Red Planet. We look forward to MOM adding to the knowledge the international community is gathering with the other spacecraft at Mars.”
- Follow @isro on Twitter
Fun with Captions
Lest anyone think that scientists and engineers are all work and no play, some of the photos sent back from NASA’s Curiosity rover sometimes show up on Twitter with the most amusing captions. Some of the Raw Images for Sol 759 (labeled September 24, 2014) were ideal for making puns about MOM watching over Curiosity’s work below on the surface on Mars.
Curiosity hasn’t been idle this week, either. Mount Sharp has been the big destination for scientific exploration and this week Curiosity sent back images of the first sample collection hole drilled at the base of the mountain, measuring just 0.63 inches wide but more than four times deeper at 2.6 inches. A hammering drill works through the rock and a sampling chamber collects the powder from the drilling.
“This drilling target is at the lowest part of the base layer of the mountain, and from here we plan to examine the higher, younger layers exposed in the nearby hills,” said Curiosity Deputy Project Scientist Ashwin Vasavada of JPL. “This first look at rocks we believe to underlie Mount Sharp is exciting because it will begin to form a picture of the environment at the time the mountain formed, and what led to its growth.”
- Mars Exploration Program
- Mars MAVEN mission
- Twitter: @MarsRovers, Spirit and Oppy
- Twitter: @MarsCuriosity
- Twitter: @MAVEN2Mars
- Twitter: @NASAJPL
- Facebook: NASA’s Curiosity Mars Rover
- Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter
Cat Ellen is a technical writer by trade, an occasional copy editor
and beta reader, and has a passion for teaching ATS bellydance and
numerous textile arts, notably drop spindle and card weaving.