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ISRO releases picture of comet taken by Mars Orbiter


Chennai: On a day when European Space Agency (ESA) is attempting to place a robot Philae on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, ISRO today released images of Comet Siding Spring, taken by its Mars Orbiter last month.

ISRO’s Mars Orbiter had the opportunity to witness the Comet Siding Spring approach Mars on October 19, for which the spacecraft repositioned itself for its safety. After the comet passed by, @MarsOrbiter tweeted, “Phew! Experience of a lifetime. Watched the MarsComet SidingSpring whizzing past the planet. I’m in my orbit, safe and sound.”

The Mars Colour Camera on board ISRO’s Mars Orbiter has captured the Coma (top bright portion) of the comet partly, as it approached MOM during last 40 minutes of the imaging session before Mars-Comet close encounter, ISRO said in its social networking site along with the pictures.

“Sequence of MCC images show the Coma move closure to MOM from 1.8 lakh to 1.3 lakh km between 17.44 to 18.25 UT on October 19,” it said.

Commenting on a streak radiating out of the comet’s nucleus, it said that jets usually represent out-gassing activity from vents of the comet-nucleus, releasing dust and ice crystals. “The outgassing activity gradually increases as the comet moves closure to the Sun,” it said.

As on 3 PM IST, ESA’s Rosetta – and her companion spacecraft – Philae – have parted ways, ahead of a historic landing on the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on Wednesday, according to ESA.

Philae is heading for a landing site named Agilkia, it said.


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