India’s Mars Orbiter Mission: Key facts

The Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), informally called Mangalyaan, is India’s first interplanetary mission to planet Mars.

The Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), informally called Mangalyaan, is India’s first interplanetary mission to planet Mars.

The MOM mission is a “technology demonstrator” project aiming to develop the technologies required for design, planning, management and operations of an interplanetary mission.

If successful, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) would be the fourth space agency to reach Mars after Roscosmos, NASA and ESA.

The project was approved by the government of India on 3 August 2012, and may cost up to INR4.54 billion (US$69 million).

The primary objective of the mission is to display India’s rocket launch systems, spacecraft-building and operations capabilities.

The main theme of MOM appears to be to seek whether there is methane, considered a “precursor chemical” for life, on the Red Planet.

The satellite will carry compact science experiment instruments, totalling a mass of 15kg to study Martian surface, atmosphere and mineralogy.

The 15 kg scientific payload consists of five instruments:

Atmospheric studies

Lyman-Alpha Photometer (LAP) – is a photometer that measures the relative abundance of deuterium and hydrogen from Lyman-alpha emissions in the upper atmosphere.

Methane Sensor For Mars (MSM) – will look to detect the presence of methane in the atmosphere of Mars.

Particle environment studies

Mars Exospheric Neutral Composition Analyzer (MENCA)- is a quadrupole mass analyzer capable of analyzing the neutral composition of particles in the exosphere.

Surface imaging studies

Thermal Infrared Imaging Spectrometer (TIS) - will measure the temperature and emissivity of the Martian surface, this can allow mapping surface composition and mineralogy of Mars.

Mars Colour Camera (MCC) - will provide images in the visual spectrum, providing context information for the other science instruments.

While the space agency had planned to launch the Rs.150-crore spacecraft on 28 October 2013, it has been delayed by a week to November 5th due to bad weather. ISRO uses its PSLV-XL (Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle) rocket for the launch.

Using its own propulsion system, the spacecraft, after leaving the earth’s orbit will sail in deep space for about 10 months and will reach the Martian transfer trajectory in September 2014. The spacecraft is then planned to enter a highly elliptical orbit of 372 km x 80,000 km around Mars.


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