Emily LakdawallaMar 04, 2015

Mars Orbiter Mission Methane Sensor for Mars is at work

After several months of near-silence, ISRO's Mars Orbiter Mission has released on Facebook the first data product from its Methane Sensor For Mars. Don't get too excited about methane yet: the methane sensor data does not yet indicate the presence or absence of methane in the atmosphere. The excellent news here is that the Methane Sensor for Mars is working, systematically gathering data.

The map shows the reflectance of the surface of Mars in the methane sensor's reference channel, a wavelength in which atmospheric methane is transparent to infrared radiation. The data that underlie this map will eventually be compared to the methane sensor's other channel, a wavelength in which methane absorbs light, to attempt to map methane at the part-per-billion level in Mars' atmosphere.

Early results from the Mars Orbiter Mission Methane Sensor for Mars (MSM) instrument
Early results from the Mars Orbiter Mission Methane Sensor for Mars (MSM) instrument The Methane Sensor for Mars has two channels, one sensitive to methane and one to measure the background reflectance of Mars at a wavelength of 1.65 microns (a wavelength at which methane is transparent) for calibration purposes. The reflectance of Mars in this reference channel will be compared to its reflectance in a channel where methane is opaque to measure the abundance of atmospheric methane. This graphic contains data acquired up to December 15, 2014. SAC / ISRO

At the same time, the mission posted on their newly redesigned website several new photos from the Mars Colour Camera, including this very fine one of Valles Marineris:

Valles Marineris from Mars Orbiter Mission
Valles Marineris from Mars Orbiter Mission ISRO

And this appears to be a much better-resolution version image from the series of Phobos images that I wrote about previously. I love the thin line of the Martian atmosphere in this view.

Phobos near the limb of Mars from Mars Orbiter Mission
Phobos near the limb of Mars from Mars Orbiter Mission Likely taken on October 14, 2014, near 11:25 UT. SAC / ISRO

This oblique view of Arsia Mons is clearly a rendered product using a digital elevation model; they didn't indicate whether the digital elevation model was created from Mars Orbiter Mission data or uses other data sets (like Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter data). I will ask to see if I can get more information!

Oblique view of Arsia Mons from Mars Orbiter Mission
Oblique view of Arsia Mons from Mars Orbiter Mission ISRO

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