India’s quest to reach Mars – the countdown begins

Mangalyaan Mission

India’s quest to reach Mars

The discovery of telescope in the 1600s inspired mankind to explore Mars. Hundreds of years of attempts had all failed. Almost two-thirds of the missions failed because of the engineering complexities involved. However, of late there were examples like the twin Mars Exploration Rovers which became a huge success and are operating for some years now.

Colour changes which had actually happened due to seasonal vegetation and linear features could be observed by the earlier telescopic observations and these early interpretations which actually created a massive public interest were not true. Later, with the invention of Mars’ two moons, Phobos and Deimos, the polar ice caps, the solar system’s tallest mountain Olympus Mon, human fascination escalated to its height and the exploration to the red planet created further interest.

India’s quest to reach the Mars

So to quench the thirst of knowing more about Mars, India decided to launch its first-ever Mars Orbiter Mission so that further research can be done on this mysterious planet. India’s first inter-planetary mission to the red planet, Mars was launched on November 5, 2013 by the Indian Space Research Organization’s Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh at 2.38 pm.

India’s first Mars orbiter ‘Mangalyaan’ weighing 1,350 kg was launched for a 300-day trek into orbit around the Red Planet and will arrive on September 24, 2014. This spacecraft will perform a series of activities through the course of its several orbits and would test the technology used for navigation, communication and inter-planetary space travel. The mission is at its critical stage and the actual countdown has begun.

Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) rocket was used for the liftoff. After the successful launch of lunar satellite ‘Chandrayaan’ in 2008, the proposal for MOM mission started. After the Indian Space Research Organization finished the complete research work for the Orbiter the Government of India approved the project in 2012 which has cost up to Rs 450 crore.

As the spacecraft tracking ships could not take up predetermined positions on time due to the bad weather condition of Pacific Ocean, the space agency had to postpone the mission to November 5, 2013 instead of October 28, 2013. The life of the Mar’s orbiter will be six to ten months. A successful mission will place India in the first position among all the Asian nations which would create history. This mission of India to Mars will make people understand that why life exists only on Earth in the whole planetary system. There is a group of scientists who have been working day and night for the success of this mission.

The main objective of this mission is to develop technologies which will be beneficial for designing, managing, planning, and operations of an inter-planetary mission as well as to showcase India’s expertise in the field of spacecraft, operations capabilities and rocket launch system.

The NASA had also launched its Mars orbiter – Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) on November 18, 2013 to study the Martian atmosphere. It in fact reached Mars on September 21, 2014.

What Mangalyaan is carrying

There are five scientific instruments which the Mangalyaan has carried to Mars.

  • Thermal Infrared Imaging Spectrometer – This will create the map of the surface of the red planet.
  • Methane Sensor – It will be used for searching the methane in the Martian atmosphere.
  • Mars Exospheric Neutral Composition – It will be utilized for studying the atmosphere of Mars.
  • Lyman Alpha Photometer – Its is to measure the red planets loss process of water.
  • Mars Color Camera – It will take the pictures of Mars’ surfaces and weather patterns as well as of the Martian moons, Phobos and Deimos.

At Isro Satellite Centre, Bangalore the five scientific instruments were mounted and on August 5, 2013, PSLV – XL launch vehicle was started for assembling. It was a record that within only 15 months, the satellite’s development was completed successfully.

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