The Mars Orbiter roared into the skies on November 05th, 2013 at 02:38 pm, taking the esteem of INDIA to an elite level globally. This is INDIA’s maiden interplanetary mission, developed with a whopping capital of nearly 460 crore rupees.
The mars satellite signifies rapid development in space research area and attracts global attention from peers, this mission will survey Mars’s geographical, topological and atmospheric activity of the red planet. This is a grand mission which proves INDIA’s capacity and also increases its feasibility to undertake all kinds of mission in the future. The Mars satellite will cover a distance of nearly 40 crore kilometers to reach Mars at duration of 300 days, and if everything goes as per plan, it will be placed in the Mars orbit on September 24, 2014.
Mars orbiter named ‘Mangalyaan’ took off from Sri Hari Kota on November 5th 2013 at 2.38 pm to be precise. The mars orbiter was carried by ‘Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle’ (PSLV C25), the launch vehicle will carry the orbiter and place it in the near-earth orbit; thereafter vehicle separation will be achieved. This will be the longest mission of the PSLV taking 44 minutes compared to the earlier one of 18 minutes. It also needs to be noted that only ‘fractional Part’ of the Total Fuel will be consumed till it enters the near earth orbit. We need to note the use of two terms here perigee and apogee.
Perigee is the nearest position, relative to the center of the earth on the path of the satellite while Apogee is the farthest point. These two factors determine the orbital diameter at any instant and increasing in altitude is effected by increasing the apogee. The Mangalyaan orbiter uses 200 tons of fuel for its journey to the earth centered orbit and then onwards an 850 kg additional fuel is required for the travel to the mars. A 440 Newton Engine is used here, as already mentioned for corresponding apogee increase, five thrusts are employed. A thrust is a significant force imparted to the orbiter to increase its altitude to take the successive stages of the journey.
The first firing took place on November 7th, 2013 for apogee update and next prolonged firing will take place on December 1st to transfer the satellite from the near earth orbit to the sun centered orbit. It needs to be additionally mentioned that the solar energy from the sun is harnessed into the solar panels on the satellite which functions as a back-up energy source to function during eclipses. This long journey will enter its ultimate stage on September 24th, 2014 to venture into the orbit of Mars, where reduction in orbiter velocity happens.
This journey is very complex and sophisticated as it is a herculean long mission, henceforth making remote controlling from earth stations difficult and also depends on a number of design modules, first of its kind (Nationally) to operate in unison for its success.
We need to understand the importance of this mission primarily, as more than 400 crore investment cannot be believed without proper alibi, for that we need to know its objective. The mars mission is the sophisticated mission till date that INDIA has ever undertaken which has raised our standards. This orbiter satellite will help people with stereotypical satellite operations such as radio communication and navigation and mainly it will explore the red planet. It will look out for the geological, topographical information on Mars and understand its atmospheric composition. It will also look out for natural products of the planet, importantly minerals and also learn its metallurgy. This will help INDIA in knowing the planet’s fitness for human survival too. Moreover, this mission will elevate our design and execution standards comprehensively.
The additional support equipment’s carried on board the orbiter satellite, to help it in achieving its objective are called the payloads. The payloads carried here are, the Color Camera which provides imaging of the Martian surface to understand its topology and surface science and also weather update monitoring is done too. The second payload is the methane and Spectroscopic sensors. The use of these sensors is to detect the presence of methane to have an evidence for the presence of life. Methane is a by-product in the metabolism of human and also most living organisms. Thus, by sensing methane, we can get a hint of sustenance of life beyond earth. Sometimes, geological activity can also release methane, hence for better accuracy, spectroscopic sensors are additionally employed.
Next comes the Lympha Alpha Photometer (LAP), this will measure the amounts of deuterium and hydrogen in the planet. This will help us in knowing the existence and extinction of water from the planet. The reasoning behind this is that, deuterium is an isotope of hydrogen, it is present in proportions with hydrogen in oceans, and the amount of deuterium present classifies the kind of waters. This will help us in knowing the presence or the reason for absence of water in the red planet. It is very important to note the hydrogen-deuterium exchange in these cases; it is materialized by the use of LAP photometers.
Mars Composition Analyzer is the final payload which will study the composition of the upper atmosphere of MARS. It will give information about the presence of atmospheric particles present, their concentration in the different layers of the atmosphere.
The Benefit For the Citizens
The important question that comes to the mind of a middle class man who doesn’t has much knowledge on space technology except the one he flew using paper in his school days is that how does it benefit me?, In what way it contributes to Development?, frankly How it means Business??.
The answer is, it provides something known as information, information cannot be quantified but it helps us immensely in accomplishing our work. The Mangalyaan also does something similar, the success of this satellite means it will demonstrate India’s ability in taking up missions that are challenging to level handled by acclaimed organizations like NASA, CERN. This will boost the economic status of the country and henceforth, there will be a lot of job opportunities in this industry.
As we discussed earlier, information’s importance, it provides information on weather, forecasting the climate and hence it will come in handy for farmers to sufficiently schedule the phases of their crop yield such that it doesn’t get affected by the weather. Another is connectivity, through networking and clustering of smaller branches of an industry with the mother center help can be availed instantly, for instance a village doctor may request for help in countering a complex operation and also borrow medicines from the primary health center in city through the use of satellites; this is known as “Telemedicine”.
This mission will improve INDIA’s technological standards and is taking a bigger step towards the development of the country as a whole; the satellite’s efficient design has cashed in a benefit of making the interplanetary mission a grand success. As Indians we need to be proud of our achievement and we can hope for future habitats in the MARS, twenty to thirty years from now.