A spacecraft sent by India to study the planet Mars has sent back the first images from its orbit around the red planet. The image, taken by the Mars Orbiter Mission, or MOM, craft "Mangalyaan" was posted online by the Indian Space Research Organization, or ISRO, early Thursday.
The view is nice up here. pic.twitter.com/VmAjNI76lm
â€” ISRO's Mars Orbiter (@MarsOrbiter) September 25, 2014
The craft successfully entered Mars' orbit early Wednesday, making India a member of an exclusive club of nations that have managed to send spacecraft to Mars, including the U.S., European Union and the former Soviet Union.
K. Radhakrishnan, chief of ISRO, told The Times Of India: “We've done our job. Everything looks great. It's now time to enjoy [Mangalyaan's] work in space. She's made us proud by reaching the Red Planet, following a meticulously prescribed path and course."
The success of India's mission, which made the country the only one to successfully send a craft to Mars on its first attempt, has attracted widespread praise. According to reports, $74 million was spent on the Mangalyaan mission while NASA's Maven mission to Mars cost 10 times more.
As India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi pointed out during a visit to an Indian rocket facility, that's less than it cost to make the movie Gravity (the film's budget was about $100 million), according to a report in Vox. Modi is also India's minister of space.
The disparity in costs, however, is not entirely down to Indian ingenuity besting American bureaucracy. NBC News reports that while NASA's mission is focused on complex scientific exploration, India's MOM is an advertisement for India's launch industry first, and a scientific mission second. As a result, the cost of launching the larger amount of U.S. scientific equipment is almost double the cost of the entire MOM mission.
Reuters reports that the craft is expected to last six months before running out of fuel and falling out of its orbit. Scientists will operate five scientific instruments on the spacecraft to gather data, according to ISRO's scientific secretary V. Koteswara Rao.