Isro's Mars mission completes 6 months

Isro's Mars mission completes 6 months

Isro’s Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) completed six months on Monday, the time that the mission was expected to last since its placement in the Martian orbit on September 24, 2014.

The calculation was that the mission’s life would only last six months, but it has now emerged that there is fuel on board the spacecraft, which would allow it to last beyond the scheduled life time. The mission can last for few more days, weeks or even months. MOM has so far taken some spectacular photographs of the mars planet, its surface and features and sent massive telemetry (data) which is under analysis as it is extensive.

The MOM, also called Mangalyaan, was launched on November 5, 2013 by Isro. It reched the martian orbit on September 24, 2014 when it was placed in the martian orbit. With India’s first interplanetary mission, Isro became the fourth space agency to reach Mars, after the Soviet space programme, NASA and the European Space Agency. India is also the first Asian nation to reach Martian orbit, and the first nation to do so on its first attempt.

The MOM probe lifted-off from the First Launch Pad at Satish Dhawan Space Centre (Sriharikota Range SHAR), Andhra Pradesh, using a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) rocket C25 at 09:08 UTC (14:38 IST) on November 5, 2013. The launch window was approximately 20 days long and started on October 28, 2013. The MOM probe spent about a month in Earth orbit, where it made a series of seven apogee-raising orbital manoeuvres before trans-Mars injection on November 30, 2013 (UTC). After a 298-day transit to Mars, it was successfully inserted into Martian orbit on September 24, 2014.

Scientists say that the mission is a technology demonstrator project to develop the technologies for design, planning, management, and operations of an interplanetary mission. It carries five instruments that will help advance knowledge about Mars to achieve its secondary, scientific objective. The spacecraft is currently being monitored from the Spacecraft Control Centre at the Isro Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC) in Bangalore with support from Indian Deep Space Network (IDSN) antennae at Byalalu. An Isro scientist said: “Once the interplanetary experience is gained, the dependence on international rockets and missions can be avoided, saving high costs.”

The launch was originally planned on October 28, 2013 but was postponed to November 5, 2013, following the delay in Isro’s spacecraft tracking ships to take up pre-determined positions due to poor weather in the Pacific Ocean.

Launch opportunities for a fuel-saving Hohmann transfer orbit occur every 26 months, in this case, 2016 and 2018. MOM’s on-orbit mission life is said to be six to 10 months.
The low cost of the mission was ascribed by K Radhakrishnan, then chairman of Isro, to various factors, including a “modular approach”, few ground tests and long (18-20 hour) working days for scientists. The MOM mission concept began with a feasibility study in 2010, after the launch of lunar satellite Chandrayaan-1 in 2008.

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