Mars Orbiter Mission spacecraft ready

Mars Orbiter Mission spacecraft ready

To be taken to Sriharikota for launch in two months

Mars Orbiter Mission spacecraft ready

 The spacecraft designed for Mars Orbiter Mission, expected to be launched in the next two months, will be taken to Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh on September 27.

The launch window for the mission is between October 21 and November 19. This mission to be launched using PSLV- C 25 (an XL version of the launch vehicle) from the Sathish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, will be India’s first inter planetary mission. It would take nine months for the spacecraft to reach the planet.

The project was approved as recently as last August. Speaking to mediapersons here on Wednesday, scientists at the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro), who were part of the project, said the mission was a step towards establishing India’s self-reliance in science and technology.

All the components were being taken care of by Isro, except for the support by NASA for supplementing ground segment software and deep space network.

S K Shivakumar, director, ISAC (Isro Satellite Centre) said: “The country has never done such a mission till now. Going millions of kilometres away from earth and bringing information from such a distance is a huge accomplishment in itself. This will be the starting point for future Mars missions for the country.”

There have been missions to Mars by a few other countries prior to this. “The difference in the perspective with which one sees the planet what matters. This will be a learning process for us. We are looking at sensing methane, that holds clue to existence of life on the planet,” said Project Director Mars, Arunan S.

He added that most of the Mars missions worldover have failed due to under-testing and hence, after thorough research, the team Isro involved in the project took ample time for testing all parameters before the launch. “We have simulated thermal balance conditions and tested the communication system too,” he said.

Unlike other satellites where communication from ground to the satellite requires hardly a few seconds, in this case, it could stretch anywhere between 20 minutes and 40 minutes. Hence, there was a need for developing checks and balances that the satellite could take care of by itself, during probable crisis situations.

The payload (scientific instruments that go along with the spacecraft) for the mission are a Lyman Alpha Photometer used for measuring Deuterium and Hydrogen in the upper atmosphere of the planet, Methane Sensor for Mars, Mars Exospheric Neutral Composition Analyser (MENCA) Mars Colour Camera and Thermal Infrared Imaging Spectrometer to measure thermal emissions.

The budget allocated for the mission is Rs 450 crore out of which Rs 110 crore is being spent on the launch vehicle. The spacecraft will have six months’ life around Mars, but is expected to outlive this time frame.

The space craft would have travelled 280 million kilometres to capture Mars and 385 million kilometres by the end of six months. The Mars orbiter will go around an orbit of 372 x 80,000 km around the red planet.

With respect to Chandrayaan II, S K Shivakumar said it was likely to take shape two years from now and that the scientists were at work in reconfiguring the design.

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