Termed as third world country, popular as being a nation of snake charmers, yet India leaves no chance to amaze the world. This time Indians have surprised the world yet again by showing its expertise in Science and Technology department. Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) or Mangalyaan (in Hindi) is India’s first Interplanetary Mission to planet Mars with an orbiter craft designed to orbit Mars. India has now become the first nation to reach Mars orbit in its first attempt and the first Asian nation to do so.
India not only became the country to reach the Mars in its first attempt, but also spent the least amount of money. The mission cost $74 million (450 crore), less than the cost of making the movie Gravity ($100 million). It had travelled 10 months, covering a distance of 420 million miles (661 million km). The remarkable thing about its success is that it was made entirely with home-grown technologies. One of the main objectives of the mission is to develop the technologies required for design, planning, management and operations of an interplanetary mission. The following statement is from NASA Administrator Charles Bolden about India’s Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM): “It was an impressive engineering feat, and we welcome India to the family of nations studying another facet of the Red Planet. We look forward to MOM adding to the knowledge the international community is gathering with the other spacecraft at Mars. ”
MOM was launched on 5 November, 2013 with the objective to explore Mars’s surface, features, its atmosphere and to study various other aspects of space. After travelling a huge distance, the orbiter was inserted into Mars’s orbit on 24 September, 2014. Following this, the orbiter published its first global view of Mars. The image was captured by the specially installed camera.
After its successful reach and orbiting plan, it also included covering the movement of passing comet, which was not the part of the mission initially. The mission is expected to last between six to ten months. After the attainment of the mission, NASA has announced its collaboration with ISRO for future explorations and other activities.
The Mars mission, as planned by ISRO, was a sophisticated exercise. Compared to other Mars missions, ISRO had a smaller rocket and payload. MOM weighed 1350 kg when it left the Earth’s surface on 5 November, 2013, out of which 850 kg was fuel. MOM did not use an upper stage launcher. Instead, it used ISRO’s PSLV and performed a series of gradual exercises to raise itself to the Earth’s higher orbit by going around the Earth six times and propelling itself higher with each revolution.
One of the ways used by ISRO to hold down costs was to save on fuel by using a smaller rocket to put the spacecraft into the Earth’s orbit first to gain enough momentum to shoot it towards Mars. As it goes around Mars in an elliptical orbit, MOM employs five sets of equipment that collectively weigh 15 kg to do scientific studies.
These five equipment include: Lyman Alpha Photometer measures the relative abundance of deuterium and hydrogen in the upper Martian atmosphere to understand previous presence of water on the planet. A methane sensor is looking for sources of the gas. While the Mars colour camera clicks away, a thermal infrared spectrometer studies heat emission, minerals and soil on Mars. In addition to this, NASA’s recently launched MAVEN can last upto 2. 5 years extendable to six more years. MOM’s expected lifespan is six months, and 300 days at the maximum. MAVEN is expected to function for total of 8. 5 years while MOM is expected to function for ten months only.
The mission was a test of the expertise of Indian scientist. They were more than overjoyed with its success and alongwith them lakhs of scientists around the world appreciated the effort. Millions of common Indian too felt proud to be the citizen of the nation when Prime Mininster Narendra Modi came out to congratulate everyone.
The mission will boost the foreign interests and funds in our science projects. The mission will give the world a new parameter to judge the country. Also the mission will create a spark in the minds of students to be part of follow-up missions. Though the Mangalyaan is primarily a demonstration vehicle, it is a great leap in space science, innovation and management.