Launched by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) in 2013, India’s Mars Orbiter Mission, known as Mangalyaan, has captured a mesmerizing video of Phobos, the larger of Mars’s two moons, as it moves across the Red Planet’s surface.
The captivating video was processed and shared on the social media platform X (previously known as Twitter) by space enthusiast Andrea Luck, utilizing data from Mangalyaan’s scientific archive.
Marking India’s inaugural interplanetary mission, Mangalyaan became the fourth space agency globally to achieve Mars orbit, joining the ranks of Roscosmos, NASA, and the European Space Agency. The mission aimed to assess crucial technologies for interplanetary exploration while investigating Mars’ surface and atmosphere using its array of five scientific instruments.
From 2014 to 2022, the spacecraft diligently circled Mars, furnishing invaluable insights into the planet and its accompanying moons. In September 2022, ISRO convened a national gathering to commemorate the milestone of Mangalyaan’s eight-year presence in Martian orbit.
The moon featured in the video, Phobos, completes an orbit around Mars every 7 hours and 39 minutes, hovering merely 5,989 km above the planet’s surface. Its orbit is undergoing a decline of 1.8 cm annually, leading scientists to anticipate either a collision with Mars or its disintegration to form a planetary ring within the next 100 million years.
The video’s focus lies on Phobos’ most prominent attribute: the 6-mile-wide crater named Stickney. This impact-formed crater has created streak patterns across the moon’s terrain. As Phobos elegantly traverses over Mars, its passage is framed by the planet’s cloudy atmosphere, producing a striking visual effect.
This footage stands as a testament to Mangalyaan’s triumph and its integral role in advancing our understanding of Mars and its lunar companions. Despite having reached the end of its operational life, the spacecraft continues to provide valuable insights for both scientists and space enthusiasts, solidifying its legacy in space exploration.