As you may already be aware, India just arrived at Mars. This makes India the latest Asian nation to arrive at the Red Planet, where it joins a rather exclusive club of just 4 space agencies that have reached this distant, dusty world. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) unveiled the first photos of Mars from its Mangalyaan spacecraft shortly after its arrival.
These photos were released between Wednesday and Thursday (Sept. 24-25, 2014), just a day after the probe made it to the fourth planet from the sun.
The other space agencies that have traveled to Mars are the United States, the Soviet Union, and the European Space Agency. The spacecraft, the Mangalyaan, stands as the central focus of India’s $74 million Mars Orbiter Mission (which is known as “MOM” for shot). Officials overseeing the project claim that this enterprise is largely a demonstration of India’s technological abilities—it shows that they are capable of putting objects in orbit, which will hopefully land them some contracts to improve the dire economic situation faced by the many poor people living in the nation.
Mangalyaan, whose name means “Mars craft” in Sanskrit, initially arrived at the Red Planet on Tuesday night (Sept. 23, 2014). This craft will study the surface of the Red Planet, and it will also take measurements of the Martian atmosphere.