Chennai: Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on Wednesday released images of Comet Siding Spring or C/2013 A1, taken by its Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) last month.
C/2013 A1, which is the size of a small mountain, passed extremely close to the planet Mars on Sunday (19 October 2014).
— ISRO (@isro) November 12, 2014
Incidentally, the Indian space agency published the comet's images on a day when European Space Agency (ESA) is attempting to place a robot Philae on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.
India's Mars Orbiter, also lovingly called 'Mangalyaan' had the opportunity to witness the Comet Siding Spring approach Mars on October 19, for which the spacecraft repositioned itself for its safety.
After the comet passed by, @MarsOrbiter tweeted, "Phew! Experience of a lifetime. Watched the MarsComet SidingSpring whizzing past the planet. I'm in my orbit, safe and sound."
The Mars Colour Camera on board Mangalyaan has captured the Coma (top bright portion) of the comet partly, as it approached MOM during last 40 minutes of the imaging session before Mars-Comet close encounter, ISRO said in its social networking site along with the pictures.
“Sequence of MCC images show the Coma move closure to MOM from 1.8 lakh to 1.3 lakh km between 17.44 to 18.25 UT on October 19,” it said.
Commenting on a streak radiating out of the comet's nucleus, it said that jets usually represent out-gassing activity from vents of the comet-nucleus, releasing dust and ice crystals. “The outgassing activity gradually increases as the comet moves closure to the Sun,” it said.
As on 3 PM IST, ESA's Rosetta and her companion spacecraft 'Philae' have parted ways, ahead of a historic landing on the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on Wednesday, according to ESA.
Earlier, the US space agency NASA has released amazing pictures of the comet clicked by its orbiters and a rover as it whizzed past the Mars.
(With Agency inputs)