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ISRO’s MOM to observe Red Planet’s Close encounter with Siding Spring Comet

Written By GOVIND PATEL on Friday, October 10, 2014 | 10/10/2014 09:14:00 PM

ISRO’s MOM to observe Red Planet’s Close encounter with Siding Spring Comet
The Indian Space Research Organisation's (ISRO) Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), also known as Mangalyaan in the local language, will observe Siding Spring, an Oort cloud comet discovered last year, when it will fly by Mars around midnight on October 19.
ISRO, which is among the largest government space agencies in the world , has moved Mangalyaan to safer position in order to keep it safe from the comet's debris.
On Twitter, MOM tweeted, "Joining the Welcome Party for the Comet. #SidingSpring @MarsCuriosity, @Maven2Mars, @Hirise, # MarsOdyssey & MarsExpress are there too. Excited".
While talking to Times of India, Kiran Kumar, director of ISRO'S Ahmedabad-based Space Application Centre, said that agency's Mangalyaan will observe the comet and capture it with its Mars Colour Camera. According to Kumar, the comet will pass the Red Planet for about one-and-a-half hours.
Scientists of India's space agency said that spacecraft's Methane Sensor for Mars will check for Methane on the comet. According to the scientists, Siding Spring is moving at a speed of 56 kilometers per second.
At its closest approach, the comet will be just 1,32,000 kilometers far from Mars, which is approximately a third of the distance between moon and earth.
On Tuesday, ISRO has moved MOM to a safe position, which consumed about 1.9 kg of fuel. The comet will be about 1, 40,000 kilometers far from the comet. According to Kumar, MOM is 400 kilometers away from Mars' surface on opposite side of the comet.
On January 3, 2013, Robert H McNaught had discovered the comet at Siding Spring Observatory situated in Australia. The comet has mass equal to the mass of 1,500 Empire State Buildings in New York.
On Thursday, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) placed its Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) behind Mars and an hour prior to the arrival of the comet.
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