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ISRO Extends Mars Orbiter Mission for Six Months
Mar 27, 2015

Life of ISRO’s Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) has been extended for six months, owing to the extra fuel onboard the spacecraft. The original lifespan of the mission was six months ended on March 24.

  • One of the main life limiting parameters of a spacecraft, under nominal orbital conditions, is the availability of propellant that is required to maintain its orbit and orientation.

  • In case of MOM, ISRO had put in an extra 37 kg of propellant. This and no wastage of fuel has helped extend the mission’s life.

  • Instruments onboard the spacecraft are working fine and sending data as expected.

  • With over 300+ pictures already captured by MOM, more are expected due to increase in mission’s life.

  • MOM’s full-disk image of Mars is one of its kind as no other satellites orbiting the red planet have been able to capture such an image.

  • ISRO will be able to get greater amounts of scientific data including coverage of Mars in different seasons.

  • As the 1,340 kg Mars Orbiter has sufficient fuel to last longer than it was intended earlier, its mission has been extended for another six months.

  • Of the five payloads (instruments) onboard, the Mars Colour Camera (MCC) has been the most active, taking several stunning images of the red planet's surface and its surroundings, including valleys, mountains, craters, clouds and dust storms.

  • The other four instruments have been conducting experiments to study the Martian surface, its rich mineral composition and scan its atmosphere for Methane gas to know if it can support life. The four instruments are Methane Sensor for Mars (MSM), Lyman Alpha Photometer (LAP), Mars Exospheric Neutral Composition Analyzer (MENCA) and Thermal Infrared Imaging Spectrometer (TIS).

MSM measures the natural gas in the Martian atmosphere with PPB (particles per billion) accuracy and map its sources. 

LAP is studying the atmospheric process of Mars and measure the deuterium (isotope) and hydrogen ratio and neutral particles in its upper atmosphere. 

MENCA and TIS are analyzing the neutral composition and measure the temperature during day and night to map the surface composition and mineralogy of Mars.

Significant Achievements of Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM)

♦ First interplanetary mission realized by India and first Indian spacecraft to incorporate full scale on-board autonomy to overcome the long distances and the communication gaps due to non-visibility periods. 

♦ First Indian spacecraft to successfully survive Van Allen Belt Crossing 39 times. 

♦ First mission to use Ship Borne Terminals to track the launch vehicle and satellite over Pacific Ocean by ISRO. 

♦ First Indian spacecraft to escape the Sphere of Influence of Earth and orbit Sun.

♦ First Mars mission in the world to succeed Mars Orbit Insertion in first attempt. 

♦ MOM takes 3.2 Earth days or 72 hours, 51 minutes and 51 seconds to go round Mars once while orbiting at a distance of 500 km nearest and over 80,000 km farthest from its red surface.

♦ Most economical interplanetary mission in the world and paved way for cost-effective access to deep space. The launch vehicle, Spacecraft and Ground Segment have been realised with a budget of Rs. 450 Crore. 

♦ When the Mars Orbiter Mission launched, it made history by not only being India's first Martian mission but by also being the first to enter Mars' orbit on its first attempt. It blasted off from Earth on Nov. 5, 2013 and made it to the Red Planet after nine months of inter-planetary space travel.

Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO)-Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) has been awarded Space Pioneer Award for science and engineering category for the year 2015 by the US based National Space Society. The Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development is awarded to ISRO in recognition of its path-breaking achievement, culminating in Mars Orbiter Mission, its significant contribution in strengthening international cooperation in peaceful use of outer space.

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