Orbiter camera to send back colour pictures

Orbiter camera to send back colour pictures

Within hours of reaching the Mars, a sophisticated colour camera on-board the Indian spacecraft will take five pictures of the Red Planet and beam it back to the ground station, 250 million km away.

None of the other four payloads will be operational in the first 72 hours when scientists and engineers at Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) will determine if the probe is in the correct orbit and if it is stable. The health of the payloads and electrical systems too will be examined.

“Sending those five pictures to the earth at a distance of 250 million km away would take a lot of time as data flow will happen at the rate of few kilobytes per second. After taking those first photos, the Mars Colour Camera (MCC) will be switched off. Other payloads will be activated after three days,” A S Kiran Kumar, director of the Space Application Centre, Ahmedabad and one of the key members of the Mars mission told Deccan Herald.

The 1,300-kg probe is slated to be inserted into the Martian orbit on the morning of September 24 precisely at 07:17:32 hours. “The Mars Colour Camera will take pictures of the Red Planet on Wednesday,” Isro Chairman K Radhakrishnan told this correspondent.

Radhakrishnan and his team reviewed the mission progress on Tuesday afternoon. “All parameters are alright. We are not tensed and ready for the D-day,” Radhakrishnan said.

The Rs 450-crore Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) has a design life of six months. If it surpasses that period and is still able to collect and send data from the Martian orbit, it would be a bonus for the Isro scientists, who designed the world’s cheapest Mars probe.

Fixing the space craft’s orbit requires collection of 12-14 hours of data, which has to reach the mission control centre to verify the probe’s position. Accurately determining the MOM’s orbit is essential to check if there was any deviation from the calculated path and if any corrections are required, Kiran Kumar said.

Mars Colour Camera – the first instrument to be switched on – was tested successfully on November 19 and 23, 2013 when the camera captured clean images of the earth from space. 

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