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18 October, 2014

Mars Orbiter Mission shifts orbit to take cover from a comet Siding Spring

Following orbit insertion on September 24, MOM’s orbit had been 423 by 80,000 kilometers. Kiran Kumar, Director of ISRO’s Space Application Centre, said that on Tuesday MOM’s orbit was altered so as to move it behind the Red Planet when the comet arrives. For this maneuvering on Tuesday, the spacecraft consumed 1.9 kilograms of fuel. At the comet's closest approach, MOM will be 400 kilometers away from the surface of the Red Planet on the opposite side from the comet. Kumar said that MOM’s highest altitude was currently 72,000 kilometers, which is expected to remain unchanged even after the departure of the comet. The minimum distance between MOM and the comet on October 19 will be around 140,000 kilometers. According to him the comet will have no negative impact on the future performance of the spacecraft or its science mission. Kumar said that MOM will carry out observations of the comet and its Mars Colour Camera will click images of it. ISRO's chairman, K.Radhakrishnan, had stated earlier that the arrival of the comet will be viewed as an opportunity for doing scientific observations. ISRO and NASA scientists will collaborate in analyzing data generated by MOM and MAVEN related to the Comet Siding Spring.

The comet was discovered on 3 January 2013 by professional astronomer Robert McNaught at the Siding Spring

Comet Siding Spring's closest approach to Mars to scale, showing minimum and maximum estimated distances.

Projected position of Comet Siding Spring and its closest approach to Mars on 19 October 2014. View Complete details of comet siding spring

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