1.2 Billion Indians Have Reason to Cheer: India’s Mars Orbiter Just Snapped its 1st Picture of Earth

By Tom Yulsman | November 20, 2013 10:06 pm
Mars Orbiter Mission India

The first image of Earth from India’s Mars Orbiter Mission. (Source: ISRO)

You’ve probably heard of NASA’s Maven mission to Mars, which launched two days ago. The spacecraft is designed to explore the the Red Planet’s upper atmosphere and return insights into whether Mars was ever habitable.

But did you know that India has sent its own spacecraft on a mission to the Red Planet?: the Mars Orbiter Mission. The picture above is the first one of Earth sent back by, well, MOM. And it’s appropriately centered on the Indian subcontinent. It’s featured on the Indian Space Research Organisation Facebook page. (Also, kudos to Emily Lakdawalla, who blogged about it today at the Planetary Society.) The spacecraft is currently orbiting Earth, getting ready for its long journey to Mars.

India, I don’t hear you. I may be on the other side of the Earth, but if all 1.2 billion of you were cheering, I really should be able to pick up the sound…

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Planetary Science, select, Top Posts
  • bhartiya888

    @editor; atleast you can hear my cheer ! Go ISRO

  • nikhil

    Dear Tom, thanks for reporting this. But I hope next time you stay away from slander about our population. It’s a huge achievement and 7 billion human beings should be proud of it.

    • Tom Yulsman

      Perhaps Nikhil you can enlighten us by showing who I “slandered” and how?

      • RahulTheDebater

        It is just his misunderstanding.Thanks for mentioning this great achievement! proud of them.

        With best regards

        Rahul Bangalore

        • Tom Yulsman

          After I wrote my comment late last night, and having been a bit sleep deprived, I regretted it thinking that it was in fact just a misunderstanding. When I wrote that statement, I was thinking about what you might hear at an American sporting event and or other large gathering — someone encouraging the crowd to even greater enthusiasm by saying, “I DON’T HEAR YOU!” It’s a positive and fun thing. And as we say here in the U.S., that’s where I was coming from! A positive and fun place.

          FYI: I spent about six weeks in India, unfortunately a long time ago. It was a life-altering experience, in a good way. I would love to go back again, and this time explore the south. Some day, I hope.

          Thank you for leaving your comments here. I’ll be keeping track of MOM, and I hope to blog about it again. So I hope you’ll come back from time to time.

          Best wishes,
          Tom in Niwot, Colorado

          • RahulTheDebater

            No worries :) I know a bit about American culture too.They are very sports frenzy,encouraging and cheering people.I have some friends in the US too.

            Only few people in India think 1.2 billion people as just population.Lot of us regard it as a billion cheerful voices taking inspiration from technological revolution happening in the country.

            I will be very glad if you visit India some time and have a great experience here.

            I like your blog very much.

            Have great Day

            Thanks and Best wishes


          • Tom Yulsman

            Thank you Rahul!

          • hungry hippo

            nikhil I
            read it pretty much the same way you did and understood it as you did. Idk how
            much you know about American sports but I for one could not tell you how many
            baskets the St Louis Brown Stockings kicked last year. Now that
            Tom explained it I understand. Tom I know the majority of us Americans are
            sports fans but for the world the pc theory of they instead of he or her may
            have worked but again like I said I understand where you both are coming from
            😀 Nice article Tom and WELL DONE INDIA!

          • Tom Yulsman

            Thank you!

  • PS

    Nice picture!

    The mass of swirling clouds seen in the central Bay of Bengal off the east coast of India, is Cyclone Helen. Landfall for Cyclone Helen is expected 21 November around 6 pm IST (1230 UTC) on the southern coast of Andhra Pradesh state.

  • https://twitter.com/nirax No Mist

    beautiful image. my cheers !

  • PrasadRao

    1 small cheer out of the 1.2 billion coming your way, Tom :)
    Thanks for noticing – this is a huge achievement for ISRO and of course for India ! I, like many Indians, are proud to get noticed for attempting it at all

  • Chanan Singh

    Tom sir thanks a lot for notice indian mom achivments.
    india is a nation of intelligent people but our leadership
    no good.but I hope india lead to world in technology in 21 century

  • Pallavi Bhat

    Yay !

  • Sudhanshu Vyas

    Very good news.
    I didn’t understand why 1.2 billion had to be mentioned. Did the New York Times have a story titled, “Martin Luther King Jr. Proud of Apollo 5’s success”?

    • Tom Yulsman

      Suhanshu, sorry but I don’t see the parallel. ALL Americans at the time, white men, black men, Jews and gentiles, Hindus, Muslims and Buddhists, had reason to cheer and be proud at the successes of the Apollo mission. Should Americans not have been proud?

      There is no question that all of us around the world should have pride in in India’s achievement, just as landing a man on the moon made all of humanity proud. But do you think that Indians have no particular reason to be proud that their nation has launched a mission to Mars? I’m sorry, but I just do not understand your objection. I’d like to understand it, so perhaps you can explain it in more detail.

      • Sudhanshu Vyas

        There have been a lot of reports saying that India should not launch such projects because it has poor people. I’m glad you do not see it that way.

        Mentioning India’s population was unnecessary in the title. It looks from my point of view that the author is trying to show an irony, that India is spending money on space exploration whereas it should only focus on it’s social issues. The title could have been to the effect of “First pictures from India’s Mangalyaan”

        • Elias Chan-Sui

          As someone with Indian heritage who was born in the West Indies I don’t understand how you could have taken his joke that 1.2 billion people who are cheering could be heard on the other side of the world as potentially offensive. It is a massively proud moment for India a nation of a massive 1.2 billion people who could and I feel should take pride in the accomplishment.

          I am not trying to pile on and disparage you in any way. My hope is that you would reconsider the method of your thinking.

          This statement is applicable to everyone.Try not to project any personal sensitivities onto what others are saying.

        • Tom Yulsman

          Sudhanshu: That was definitely not what I was trying to express. I think it is fabulous that India has launched this mission.

          I do completely understand the objections that some people apparently have. Over many decades, we heard the same kind of objections to our own space program here in the United States. But I have always felt that the investment paid for itself many times over in so many different ways. Especially during the Apollo missions, which were held at a time when the country was threatening to tear itself apart over racial issues, the Vietnam war, poverty, etc., the quest to put a man on the moon was one thing that could bring everyone together. It was (mostly) a noble cause. And over the years, the space program no doubt inspired countless young people to pursue careers in science and engineering — a very good thing, I think. And it has yielded scientific and technological returns whose value can barely be counted. I hope India enjoys the same benefits.

          And yes, you all have a very big reason to be proud. Congratulations!

          • Sudhanshu Vyas

            Thank you. People pick up parts of the story according to their experiences. I did the same and misunderstood your writing.

            Supporting your point, if it wasn’t for Vikram Sarabhai, India might not have had the scientists and engineers needed for MOM. These are the same people who have saved millions from cyclones and droughts.

            I hope to hear more of your coverage on Mangalyaan and other stories.

          • Tom Yulsman

            Thank you Sudhanshu!

          • Shaju Jose

            Dear Sir, Thank you for the article. Some negativity from commentators here can be based on the fact that many western media and posters instead of appreciating this event was being dismissive and lambasting for a poor nation being aspiring. If you have noticed some prominant UK news house even ran a story saying India is still receiving their aid and so shall not be doing this. It was like saying a poor poverty stricken house hold are not supposed to send their kids to a decent private school untill they get their all basics right. You did not do that but you put that in the right and promising note. Don’t know how some one can read negativity in this article. Can be case of that cat thats even scared of cold water from the experience of falling into hot water! Thank you millions Sir. Love from India.

          • Tom Yulsman

            Thank you Shaju. I appreciate your comments!

    • Emkay

      No the NYT did not, but the Washington Post did, and they had another important article about how MLK Jr visited the Willy Wonka chocolate factory and actually ate some chocolate! can you believe it….far out….

  • Elias Chan-Sui

    The little space agency that could. And they do it on a shoe string budget. Hopefully this will inspire not only Indians but also their neighbors to choose broader scientific inquiry and understanding.

    • Aniket

      A “little” space agency? ISRO was the first to discover water on moon. Yes, 3 months before NASA :-)

      • Elias Chan-Sui

        Is it as large as NASA? So the fact that it isn’t and yet it is doing extraordinary thing with a smaller budget and resources means that what I said is correct. Don’t be so sensitive. It was a direct compliment.

      • Hardy

        Hey, which part of “little” was difficult to understand?

    • vik1

      Agree! Being many times smaller than NASA and lagging many years compared to West, a small step in right direction. Karma is calling 😉

  • Nikhil

    Thanks, Tom, for the article, and here’s my cheer from Bangalore – Yayyyy! 😀

    • Tom Yulsman

      I think I heard you all the way over here! 😉

  • OneIndia

    Congratulations to ISRO for MOM, I hope it will finish its mission successfully and gather data from MARS.

    Thank you Tom for the article, surely its moment of being proud and happy for each and every Indian. By the way there will be negative comments I’m sure, you can ignore them Tom :-)

  • Pratiksha

    Lumia hai kya ?

  • Gowtham Ramani Kumar

    ok let’s talk about hungry kids now. That’s the logical next step.

  • rajeshmathur

    Take a vow Tom to never write about India. Never again. So many explanations. for God’s sake.A nation of juvenile incoherent rabid delinquents who who dont know their real status in the world. Poor Hungry, Diseased, ill-trained, ill-informed “Worldbeaters”.

  • Dhanya P S

    It is too late to send a satellite to Mars because of our very friendly touch with it from the per-historic days of our ancestors through vedic period. It is well known to most Hindu believers who chant Manthra of Chovaa (Mars) for good fortune in Nava-Graha Temple as:
    “Dharanee garbha sambhootham
    Vidyuth kanchana sannibham
    Kumaram sasthihastham cha
    Mangalam pranamamyaham” which means Mars was delivered by the Earth and it has whole nature of the earth. So there is water, air lighting,elctro magnetics, life, etc. and it will be discovered by our Mangalyan soon.

    But our proud in this fiedl was destroyed and made the Indians are hooligans among the coutries by the Indian politicians who ruled India so far!



ImaGeo is a visual blog focusing on the intersection of imagery, imagination and Earth. It focuses on spectacular visuals related to the science of our planet, with an emphasis (although not an exclusive one) on the unfolding Anthropocene Epoch.

About Tom Yulsman

Tom Yulsman is Director of the Center for Environmental Journalism and a Professor of Journalism at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He also continues to work as a science and environmental journalist with more than 30 years of experience producing content for major publications. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Audubon, Climate Central, Columbia Journalism Review, Discover, Nieman Reports, and many other publications. He has held a variety of editorial positions over the years, including a stint as editor-in-chief of Earth magazine. Yulsman has written one book: Origins: the Quest for Our Cosmic Roots, published by the Institute of Physics in 2003.


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