Those closely following ISRO’s Mars Mission can now view the spacecraft’s simulation which will give its previous location as well as its current position. Thanks to Sankaranarayanan K V, an astronomy enthusiast and a member of the Bangalore Astronomical Society who convinced NASA to include the MOM in one of their tracking websites, the simulation became possible.
India’s Mars Orbiter Mission which was launched on November 5, has generated a lot of interest. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has started a Facebook page to provide live updates on the progress of the orbiter in its 300-day journey to Mars. The page is closely monitored by around 2.5 lakh followers.
Buoyed by this readiness to share information, many people have taken an interest in the mission. This includes Sankaranarayanan who has made a simple visualisation of the Mars Orbiter’s journey on his website www.sankara.net/mom.html. The data used by Sankaranarayanan is from the NASA Horizons website which makes orbit data for spacecraft public.
Thanks to Sankarnarayanan’s efforts, MOM is the first non-NASA/ESA Spacecraft to be listed in the website.
“The first step was to make the orbit data available to the public so that websites or software tools could use this data to predict locations and draw orbits. When I made the request I informed them that it would help educate and inspire thousands of students and enthusiasts in India and elsewhere who are keenly following the mission. I believe NASA understands this very well. The next step was to use this data and create a visualisation,” said Sankaranarayanan.
“The site will help the average person see some visualisation of the orbit and know where the craft is currently, relative to the earth and other planets,” he added. The website features a drawing of orbits of Mars, Earth, Venus and Mercury around the sun. Set against a black background, the travel path of the spacecraft is shown from the moment it departs on its hyperbolic orbit around the sun.