India’s Mars Orbiter Mission has clocked success. We have become the first country to be successful in the maiden attempt in a Mars mission. The spacecraft entered the Martian orbit Wednesday morning exactly at the appointed time, the ISRO has since confirmed. Technically, the burn start of the main liquid engine was prompt. However, the radio link between the spacecraft and earth is now blocked by Mars as the planet is undergoing an eclipse and is in the shadow of the sun. As such, the signals are expected to be relayed from the Australian space centre in the afternoon as per an arrangement.
The Mars Orbiter Mission was India’s first inter-planetary mission to Mars with an orbiter craft designed to be put into its orbit, that is elliptical. The mission was primarily a technological one involving critical operations and requirements.
The ISRO has set the following as the mission objectives:
Exploration of Mars surface features, morphology, mineralogy and Martian atmosphere by indigenous scientific instruments.
- Design and realisation of a Mars orbiter with a capability to survive and perform Earth bound manoeuvres, cruise phase of 300 days, Mars orbit insertion / capture, and on-orbit phase around Mars.
- Deep space communication, navigation, mission planning and management.
- Incorporate autonomous features to handle contingency situations.
The success of the first interplanetary mission which was launched successfully by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on 5th November, 2013 has placed India in the fourth position after the Soviet Space Programme, NASA and the European Space Agency.
After the launch of Chandrayaan 1 in 2008 the idea Of the MOM mission was conceptualized, with a feasibility study in 2010. On 3rd August, 2012 the project was approved by the Government of India. The cost of total project was Rs. 4.54 billion, out of which Rs. 1.25 billion was spent on the required studies for the orbiter.
On 5th August, 2013 the assembling of PSLV – XL launch vehicle was started. On 2nd October, 2013 the shipment of the finished spacecraft to Srihorikota, Andhra Pradesh was scheduled so that integration to PSLV-XL launch vehicle can be done. At ISRO Satellite Centre, the five scientific instruments were mounted successfully. It has marked a record that the satellite’s development was finished in a span of only 15 months. In the year 2017 – 2020 there is a plan that ISRO will send a follow up mission with a greater scientific payload. There are a group of scientists headed by the chairman of ISRO K.Radhakrishnan are going to create a milestone in the Indian Space History.
The mass of the lift-off was 1,350kg which includes propellant of 852 kg and is cuboid in shape of approximately 1.5 m. The propulsion hardware configuration is same as Chandrayaan 1 with some higher modifications and upgradations that is required for a Mars mission and bus of the spacecraft is a modification of I-1K structure. There are three solar array panels which can generate electric power. For orbit raising and insertion in the Martian orbit, 440N thrust liquid fuel engine has been used.
There are two factors for which ISRO had to choose less powerful PSLV for this mission which cannot be directly launched on Mars trajectory. Firstly, as GSLV failed twice in two space missions in 2010, ISRO could not take chances to experiment with it. And secondly, the MOM project could have been delayed for at least another three years if the new batch of rockets were ordered. As the PSLV is less powerful ISRO first launched it into earth.
ISRO chairman K. Radhakrishnan announced the delay of the launch for a week on 19th October, 2013. This was because of the arrival of the telemetry ship in Fiji Islands which was delayed. So instead of 28th October, 2013, MOM was launched on 5th November, 2013 with the primary aim for demonstrating the operation of an interplanetary mission to Mars. On the same day the satellite was successfully placed on Earth’s orbit by the PSLV-XL.
On 6, 7, 8, 10, 12, and 16 November various orbit raising operations were carried out from the Spacecraft Control Centre (SCC) at ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC) at Peenya, Bangalore. Though the results of the first three maneuvers for orbit raising were minimal the fourth was quite successful. During the spacecraft’s stay in Earth’s orbit, six burns were completed in total. On 30th November, 2013 seventh burn was carried out for the insertion of MOM into heliocentric orbit for the transition to Mars.
Three trajectory maneuvers were carried out though four were originally planned. On December, 11th 2013, the first Trajectory Correction Maneuver (TCM) was carried out followed by the second one on 11th June, 2014 which was actually scheduled on April 2014 as it was not required. By 15th September, 2014 MOM had covered 98% of its journey. As the orbiter’s trajectory was closely matching with the planned trajectory, the third planned trajectory correction maneouver was also postponed and ultimately it was carried out on Monday, 22nd September, 2014. The last trajectory course correction is very important as the scientists of ISRO reignited the main engine of Mars Orbiter Mission which was idle for such a long time.
Finally, the day has arrived for which millions of Indians and the whole world was waiting for the last 300 days. ISRO scientists have ensured that the main engine is in very good condition and it is ready for the 24 minute firing for the insertion of the spacecraft in the Martian orbit in its scheduled time. People from all over the world witness the historic moment as Mangalyaan successfully entered the Martian orbit. PM Mr. Narendra Modi who was present at ISRO centre congratulated all the scientists. While addressing the scientists, he says, ‘India has successfully reached Mars’. ‘India has dared to reach out into the unknown. History has been created by our scientists. ISRO joins the elite group of agencies to have successfully reached Mars’, he added.
We as Indians feel proud of our ISRO scientists and all the people who were connected with this project. It is a dream comes true. India is the first country to enter the orbit in its maiden attempt.
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