Sriharikota (Andhra Pradesh): India's Mars spacecraft Mangalyaan has been repositioned as a precautionary measure against the Comet Siding Spring, that is expected to come within about 87,000 miles of the Red Planet on October 19, a senior official of the Indian space agency said.
“We have repositioned the Mars Orbiter, as the Comet Siding Spring is expected to be close to the Mars on Oct 19,”AS Kiran Kumar, director, Space Application Centre, Ahmedabad was quoted as saying on Thursday.
He said the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has taken the Mars Orbiter to a position far away from the comet's tail.
In view of the impending comet flyby, MAVEN, Curiosity, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, and all the other various spacecraft and robotic inhabitants of Mars have been put on high alert.
ISRO had voiced concern about the aircraft's safety and said that the comet's massive dust trail as a result of the flyby can potentially bring havoc on the sensitive electronic devices of spacecraft and disable them.
According to India's Mars mission director V Kesava Raju, ISRO engineers from the command centre at Bangalore are trying to balance MOM's safety with the visual treat the fly-by promises.
Using its cameras, Mangalyaan will try to click and send images of the those moments back to Earth.
According to NASA, the comet comes from the Oort Cloud, material left over from the formation of the solar system.
(With Agency inputs)