Mars, a representational image.
In Jonathan Swift’s famous satire Gulliver’s Travels (Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World. In Four Parts. By Lemuel Gulliver, 1726), the astronomers of flying island Laputa are described as having discovered two satellites of Mars. In 1877, Asaph Hall, an American astronomer discovered the two moons, Phobos and Deimos. Now, the Mars Colour Camera (MCC) onboard Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) Mars Orbiter Mission has captured the image of Phobos, the closest and biggest moon of Mars.
It was taken on July 1 when the Orbiter was about 7,200 km from Mars and 4,200 km from Phobos.
“Spatial resolution of the image is 210 m. This is a composite image generated from 6 MCC frames and has been color corrected,” ISRO said in an update along with the image. The moon is largely believed to be made up of carbonaceous chondrites.
A recent image of the mysterious moon of Mars, Phobos, as captured by India’s Mars Orbiter Mission
— ISRO (@isro) July 3, 2020
According to ISRO, “the violent phase that Phobos has encountered is seen in the large section gouged out from a past collision (Stickney crater) and bouncing ejecta.””Stickney, the largest crater on Phobos along with the other craters (Shklovsky, Roche & Grildrig) are also seen in this image,” it said.
The mission also known as Mangalyaan was initially meant to last six months, but subsequently ISRO had said it had enough fuel for it to last “many years.”
The Mars Orbiter Mission spacecraft was successfully placed in orbit around the red planet on September 24, 2014. ISRO had launched the spacecraft on its nine-month-long odyssey on a home-grown PSLV rocket from Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh on November 5, 2013. It had escaped the earth’s gravitational field on December 1, 2013. The Rs.450 crore MOM mission aims at studying the Martian surface and mineral composition as well as scan its atmosphere for methane (an indicator of life on Mars).
The Orbiter has five scientific instruments – Lyman Alpha Photometer, Methane Sensor for Mars, Mars Exospheric Neutral Composition Analyser, Mars Colour Camera and Thermal Infrared Imaging Spectrometer.