CHENNAI: The Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) or Mangalyaan, India’s maiden interplanetary voyager, which completed 1,000 earth days on Monday, will continue to circle the planet for another five years.
“If there is no trouble forthcoming, the spacecraft can hold good for at least another 5-6 years,” ISRO chairman AS Kiran Kumar told Express. To put this in perspective, the original mission life was 6 months — or just 180 days — but the spacecraft has still got about 15kg of fuel left.
MOM escaped a major calamity early this year when it faced long eclipse duration of 8 hours which meant the on-board battery, which is designed to handle an eclipse of only 100 minutes duration, would have got drained beyond the safe limit. However, the orbital manoeuvres performed on January 17 ensured the MOM spacecraft was safely taken to a new orbit.
“This manoeuvre consumed about 20kg of propellant. If no further trouble or corrections are required, the spacecraft will hold in good shape for at least next five years,” Kumar explained.
Launched on November 3, 2013, Mangalyaan entered the intended orbit on September 24, 2014. ISRO’s feat made headlines across the globe for its cost-effectiveness, short period of realisation, economical mass-budget and miniaturisation of payloads.
Kumar said the first year data from MOM is already put in the public domain while the next year’s data is being analysed. Though the spacecraft has experienced ‘blackout’ (solar conjunction) and ‘whiteout’ (when the Earth is between the Sun and Mars, solar radiation may make it impossible to communicate with the Earth), the in-built full autonomy took care of itself without any intervention.
Officials said the on board Mars Colour Camera has produced over 715 images so far.
PV Venkitakrishnan, Director, ISRO Propulsion Complex, told this newspaper that the methane sensor for Mars has prepared a near-global albedo map of Mars for the first time. “This will allow us to know the surface and environment of the Red Planet much better and closer,” he said.
1. Methane Sensor for Mars
2. Mars Colour Camera
3. Mars Exospheric Neutral Composition Analyser
4. Thermal Infrared Imaging Spectrometer
5. Lyman Alpha Photometer
Launched: November 3, 2013
Entered into orbit: September 24, 2014
Closest point to Mars: 366km
1,000 Earth days is translated to 973.25 Mars Sols (Martian Solar day)
MOM has completed 388 orbits
Cost of India’s Mangalyaan mission
Cost of NASA’s Maven Mars mission