Mangalyaan to have extended stay in Mars orbit

According to ISRO, there is enough fuel on board the spacecraft that would allow it to last longer in space

By Deepanwita Gita Niyogi
Published: Wednesday 25 March 2015

(Left) Regional dust storm activities over the northern hemisphere of Mars as captured by Mars Colour Camera and a 3D view of Arsia Mons, a huge volcano on Mars (Photo courtesy: ISRO)

Mangalyaan, India’s first inter-planetary mission, will stay for another six months in the Martian orbit.

Deviprasad Karnik, director publications and public relations unit of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) told Down To Earth that the Mars Orbiter Mission (MoM) had completed its expected life of six months period in the Martian orbit. However, the spacecraft is expected to be functional for another six months.

The satellite was sent to the Red Planet in September last year to study its surface.

According to Karnik, ISRO has been continuously monitoring the spacecraft and its five scientific instruments which are in good ‘health’.

“All the scientific instruments have been operated and tested successfully. The images of Mars captured by the Mars Colour Camera have been received and are found to be of very good quality.

Scientific analysis of the data being received from the Mars orbiter spacecraft is in progress. The scientific objectives of the mission are to study the Martian surface features, morphology, mineralogy and Martian atmosphere by the following indigenous scientific payloads,” he said.

As the life of the spacecraft is expected to be extended by over six more months, the payloads will continue to acquire data. It will be better to have as much data as possible in case of any exploration mission to derive useful results, Karnik added.

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 country to reach the Martian orbit in its maiden attempt.

India created history with Mangalyaan as it became the first nation to reach the Red Planet in its debut attempt.

Mangalyaan, which cost Rs 450 crore, is the cheapest inter-planetary mission till date in the world.

Conquering space

Right now, ISRO scientists are busy preparing for the launch of a new satellite for navigation purpose. The launch of IRNSS-1D on board PSLV-C27 is scheduled on Saturday evening from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota.

It will be the fourth satellite of IRNSS constellation. IRNSS-1D is one among the seven of IRNSS constellation of satellites. It will help to increase the satellite-based navigation system of India which is currently under development. Besides navigation, the satellite will also provide tracking and mapping services.

Moon Mission

Under the space science exploration programme, ISRO’s next mission will be Chandrayaan-2 planned to be launched by GSLV-MkII during the 2017–2018 time frame. Chandrayaan-2, a follow-up mission of Chandrayaan-1 with an orbiter, lander and rover, is to be launched onboard GSLV. Chandrayaan-2, India’s second mission to the Moon, is totally an indigenous one.

“This mission will also be primarily technological to prove our capability to land and to deploy and control the movement of a rover on the lunar surface,” Karnik told Down To Earth. The goals of the mission are to further improve the understanding of the origin and evolution of the Moon, he said.

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