The passage of a comet, Siding Spring, will be the first astronomical event that the Indian Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) spacecraft or “Mangalyaan” will encounter once it reaches the red planet next month. The comet that is scheduled to fly past the red planet on October 19 could pose a potential threat to the survival of the orbiter. “After the spacecraft is captured in the Mars’ orbit, we will encounter the Siding Spring comet that will engulf Mars in October,” said A S Kiran Kumar, director, Space Applications Centre, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) while talking about the spacecraft that is scheduled to enter the orbit of Mars on September 24.
In a spectacular event on October 19, the MOM will encounter comet Siding Spring, that will come closer to the Red planet than any recorded comet has ever passed the Earth. The comet was discovered in 2013 by Robert H McNaught at Siding Spring Observatory. The MOM will be using the instruments onboard to observe the Siding Spring’s passage and its effects on the Martian atmosphere which is much thinner than Earth.
When asked if the comet’s rendezvous with the red planet was a cause of concern for the Indian spacecraft’s survival, Kumar said, “It is one of the events. We are looking if we can take advantage of this opportunity and study the comet.”
But there definitely seems to be a case of worry as NASA is already taking steps to protect its own orbiters and rovers on the red planet.
“The comet’s nucleus will miss Mars by about 82,000 miles (132,000 kilometers), shedding material hurtling at about 35 miles (56 kilometers) per second. At that velocity, even the smallest particle – estimated to be about one-fiftieth of an inch (half a millimeter) across – could cause significant damage to a spacecraft,” states a recent press release by American space agency whose Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft will enter the Mars’ orbit on September 21, a few days ahead of ISRO’s MOM.
- After Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi, Liquor Baron Vijay Mallya’s Twitter Account Hacked
- Find Out What PM Narendra Modi Told Cabinet Over Demonetisation Decision
- Home Minister Rajnath Singh Assures Safety Of All Tourists Stranded On Havelock Island
- Government To Waive Service Tax On Debit, Credit Card Transactions Of Up To Rs 2,000
- President Pranab Mukherjee Criticises Parliament Disruptions Over Demonetisation
- Pakistan International Airlines Flight Carrying Over 40 Passenger On Board Crashes
- Shah Rukh Khan On Raees Clash With Kaabil: It’s Impossible To Have A Solo Release In India
- US-President Elect Donald Trump Named TIME’s Person Of The Year 2016
- O. Panneerselvam: 10 Things You Need To Know
- PM Narendra Modi Slams Opposition For Not Letting Parliament Function
- Nawazuddin Siddiqui On Working In Raees: Was Nervous To Shoot With Shah Rukh Khan
- Bathinda Dancer Murder: Video Showing Accused Opening Fire At Marriage
- 5 Lesser Known Facts About Sasikala Natarajan
- Congress Leader Shashi Tharoor’s Delhi Home Burgled: Here’s What Happened
- Reserve Bank Of India Keeps Repo Rate Unchanged Post Demonetisation
“MAVEN will study gases coming off the comet’s nucleus into its coma as it is warmed by the sun. MAVEN will also look for effects the comet flyby may have on the planet’s upper atmosphere and observe the comet as it travels through the solar wind,” states the NASA’s release, adding that the NASA was repositioning its Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and Mars Odyssey orbiter. It, however, does not expect any “hazard” from the comet to Opportunity and Curiosity rovers positioned on the planet’s surface.