Like a kid looking out of the window of the family minivan, the camera on board NASA's Mars Climate Orbiter has snapped its first look at the red planet while it was still 4.5 million kilometers (2.8 million miles) away.
The image shows Mars as a tiny red "half moon" dot. It was taken on Tuesday, September 7, by the spacecraft's color camera, one of two science instruments onboard.
Mars Climate Orbiter arrives at Mars in the early morning hours of September 23, 1999. It will fire its main engine at about 1:55 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time to put itself into orbit around the planet. The orbiter will become the first weather satellite at Mars, taking weather and climate measurements during a two-year long mapping mission. More information about the mission is available at the project's home page, http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msp98/orbiter/ .
Mars Climate Orbiter is one of a series of missions in a long-term program of Mars exploration known as the Mars Surveyor Program that is managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington, DC. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA.
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