Wednesday, 2 October 2013

First photo's of Ison taken from Mars

At last NASA has released the first photo's of Ison taken from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter!
Using the HiRISE camera NASA's MRO took four photo's of Ison from a distance of 13.8 million km (8.5 million miles) on the 29th of September as Ison made her approach to Mars. The photo below is an enlarged image of one of the photo's, the first of Ison taken by MRO while orbiting Mars. The grainy image shows Ison as the blob of light in the centre.

Ison image taken by Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter's HiRISE camera (NASA/JPL/University of Arizona)
Alan Delamere and Alfred McEwen, HiRISE researchers gave the follow statement in a press release:
HiRISE researchers Alan Delamere and Alfred McEwen explained in a news release:

Based on preliminary analysis of the data, the comet appears to be at the low end of the range of brightness predictions for the observation. As a result, the image isn’t visually pleasing but low coma activity is best for constraining the size of the nucleus. This image has a scale of approximately 8 miles (13.3 km) per pixel, larger than the comet, but the size of the nucleus can be estimated based on the typical brightness of other comet nuclei. The comet, like Mars, is currently 241 million kilometers from the Sun. As the comet gets closer to the sun, its brightness will increase to Earth-based observers and the comet may also become intrinsically brighter as the stronger sunlight volatilizes the comet’s ices.


Ison image's taken by Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter's HiRISE camera 29/09/2013 (NASA/JPL/University of Arizona)


NASA's MRO using it's HiRISE camera is thought to have captured more images as Ison reached it's closest point with Mars yesterday, hopefully they will be releasing these images soon. Unfortunately NASA has been caught up in the US government shutdown, so we are unable to predict when we will get to see them. We hope this situation is sorted out quickly, but until then these images have really wetted our appetite for the picture's to come!

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