Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Mars orbiters safe after scary encounter with the comet

This is the best news that came after the comet flyby. Mars orbiters are safe after scary encounter with the comet
NASA’s mars spaceship MAVEN seems to be left unharmed from the comet that flew past the Red Planet with blazing fast speed. This was the most talked about topic among the space enthusiasts and astronomers for the last several weeks and now when it has gone away leaving MAVEN unscathed the NASA bosses have taken a sigh of relief.
There were fears that the long tail of the comet would either hit the MAVEN or for that matter impact it some way or the other. But the best thing for NASA was the fact that nothing happened to it and it remained safe and sound.
mars orbiter nasa mavenNonetheless it was not the only orbiter orbiting around the Red Planet. There are several others and besides NASA they too repositioned their satellites to avoid collision or its impact.
Not just NASA’s Mars orbiter, MAVEN survived to stay for a long time in the Martian orbit to continue its study of atmosphere around Mars, it has enthused scientists across the world. It has also taken some great shots of the comet that flew past the Red Planet at a breakneck speed.
But the best pics come from older orbiters. NASA has said that the HiRISE camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter took several top class images of the comet Siding Spring, the first resolved images of a long-period comet’s nucleus. It is notwithstanding the fact that the NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter was a long way from the comet, it was still able to take great picture of the moving body. HiRISE took the pictures nine minutes apart from a distance of some 138,000 kilometers (86,000 miles) from the comet, yielding a scale of about 138 meters.
There are at least three Mars orbiters orbiting around it round the clock. Besides there are two other orbiters, one from European Space Agency and the other from India’s ISRO. The three NASA orbiters include Odyssey spacecraft, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, the newest of them all MAVEN.
But it was the older orbiter that took the best snaps from its powerful high-resolution camera. NASA officials  say that the camera’s narrow field-of-view had to be perfectly aimed at the comet, requiring precise pointing of the spacecraft by engineers at MRO’s control center at Lockheed Martin in Denver.
Carey Lisse of Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory while talking about the pics says, “The comet was placed there after it formed, we think, in the first million or few million years of the beginnings of our solar system, so it’s a body that’s older than the Earth…Imagine a body that’s about the size of a small Appalachian mountain or Downtown D.C. It’s made roughly half of rocky dust and half of volatile ices like water, carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide.”

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