06-11-2017 01:30 PM | Lathika Saju | My Indian Dream
Asia’s first successful Mars mission
It has been 4 years since India’s Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) also called Mangalyaan was launched on November 5, 2013. The mission brought glory to India as it became the first country to reach Martian orbit on its maiden voyage. In fact, it is Asia’s first successful Mars mission.
The MOM reached the Martian orbit on September 24, 2014, and its been three years since it is orbiting Mars, albeit it was designed to last only six months. It was lifted off from the First Launch Pad at Satish Dhawan Space Centre (Sriharikota Range SHAR), Andhra Pradesh, using a (PSLV) rocket. With the launch, India became the fourth space agency to reach Mars after the Soviet Space Program, NASA and the European Space Agency.
The mission was initiated to develop the technologies for designing, planning, management, and operations of an interplanetary mission. Currently, it is being monitored from the Spacecraft Control Centre at ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC) in Bangalore with support from Indian Deep Space Network (IDSN) antennae at Byalalu.
This is a major achievement for India as India’s space program is still not par with major players as it had been operating for years under global isolation following sanctions for a nuclear missile test in the 1970s. What’s more interesting is that the cost of the mission was only approximately Rs 450 crore (73 million), less than the $100 million Hollywood blockbuster ‘Gravity’. The Mangalyaan is the least expensive Mars mission to date.
Although the 3,000-pound spacecraft may not be as technologically complex as those launched by the US and Russia, it certainly paves the way for India to emerge as a leading supplier of low-cost technology.
MOM is credited with many laurels like cost-effectiveness, a short period of realisation, economical mass-budget, miniaturisation of five heterogeneous science payloads etc. What’s more special about the project is that three women scientists were very much a part of this mission and had a hand in its astounding success.
Nandini Harinath, Project Manager Mission Design, Deputy Operations Director, Mars Orbiter Mission, ISRO said, “It was very important for India, not just for Isro. It's put us on a different pedestal, foreign countries are looking at us for collaborations and the importance and attention we got was justified.” She is very proud to see the Mars Orbiter Mission on the new 2000 rupee notes.
Ritu Karidhal- Deputy Operations Director of the Mars Orbiter Mission said, "It was a very small window, so the big challenge was to realise the project in that time. We had no heritage of interplanetary missions, so we had a lot to do in that short period." She attributed the mission’s success to the team effort.
Minal Sampath, systems engineer shouldered the major responsibility in the capacity of ‘System Engineer’ to mark a successful beginning of Indigenous Mangalyaan. Mrs. Sampath along with other researchers burnt their midnight oil stretching over 18 hours daily. It is so heartening to see that their hard work has paid off.
The satellite is in good health and continues to work as expected. While ISRO celebrates its numerous victories, the Mars Orbiter Mission will always be the jewel in the crown.
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