The Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) on 24 September 2015 successfully completed one year of the mission life around Mars with a large data set acquired by all five payloads of MOM. On the occasion, Space Applications Centre of (ISRO), Ahmedabad launched a Mar Atlas.
The Atlas contains a compilation of images acquired by Mars Colour Camera (MCC) and results obtained by other payload results in a form of scientific atlas. The images from MCC provided unique information about Mars at varying spatial resolutions.
It has obtained Mars Global data showing clouds, dust in atmosphere and surface albedo variations, when acquired from apoapsis at around 72000 km.
India’s first interplanetary probe through MOM
Mars is one of the closest celestial objects to the Earth and it has attracted humans towards itself since the time immemorial. A large number of unmanned orbiters, landers and rovers have been launched to reach Mars since early 1960s. These missions had provided large amount of data on various scientific aspects of the Mars.
In 2014, India joined the club of space faring nations to explore Mars by sending its first planetary mission called Mars Orbiter Mission or popularly known as MOM. The MOM spacecraft, also known as Mangalyaan, arrived at the Red Planet on the night of 23 September 2014 just two days after NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution probe (MAVEN) reached Mars orbit.
Mangalyaan, which means Mars craft in Sanskrit, was the first interplanetary probe ever launched by India and its 73 million US dollars mission is primarily a technology demonstration. The MOM spacecraft was designed, built and launched in record period of less than two years.
Moreover, this 450-crore Mangalyaan mission is the cheapest inter-planetary mission that is just a tenth of NASA’s Mars mission Maven that entered the Martian orbit couple of days before MOM. For India, it is the proudest moment to achieve such a victory.
Five Instruments of MOM
MOM carried five science instruments collecting data on surface geology, morphology, atmospheric processes, surface temperature and atmospheric escape process. These are:
• Lyman-Alpha Photometer (LAP): A photometer that measures the relative abundance of deuterium and hydrogen from Lyman-alpha emissions in the upper atmosphere.
• Methane Sensor for Mars (MSM): It will measure methane in the atmosphere of Mars, if any, and map its sources.
• Mars Exospheric Neutral Composition Analyser (MENCA): It is a quadrupole mass analyser capable of analysing the neutral composition of particles. The heritage of this payload is from Chandra’s Altitudinal Composition Explorer (CHANCE) payload aboard the Moon Impact Probe (MIP) in Chandrayaan-1 mission.
• Thermal Infrared Imaging Spectrometer (TIS): It measures the thermal emission and can be operated during both day and night. It would map surface composition and mineralogy of Mars and also monitor atmospheric CO2 and turbidity.
• Mars Colour Camera (MCC): This tricolour camera gives images and information about the surface features and composition of Martian surface.
How MOM’s success is interlinked with India’s pride?
The Mangalyaan has been a 100-per-cent success after it was injected into the Martian orbit, where it has already completed some 120 orbits.
There is no doubt that the Mars mission has enhanced the national image when US President Barack Obama acknowledged that India and America are both countries that have reached Mars; in fact China also termed the success of Mangalyaan as Asia’s pride.
The Mangalyaan mission also made the country’s name as the world leader in space as the US took note of the Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) capabilities. The United States, a country that tried hard to scuttle the ISRO in its early stages, now seeks to make it a partner.
Mangalyaan helped break the shackles. It is MOM’s success that forced both ISRO and NASA to together build and launch an Earth Observing satellite called NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR) mission to study climate change in another five years.
This truly Made in India Mangalyaan mission opened the eyes of the world to the fact that India is indeed a serious space-faring nation.