India’s ambitious Mars Mission has been hitting the news of late and it deserves all the attention that it has received till now. The Mars Orbiter Mission, aptly termed as Mangalyaan, has become the crowning glory of ISRO as the mission was a success in the first attempt. Moreover, the entire budget of this actual space mission was much less than the investment that it took to create the movie, “Gravity”.
Why is Mangalyaan Receiving So Much Acclaim Globally?
The reason behind the widespread acclaim for the Mangalyaan mission is the low budget which was maintained for this mission without any compromises being made on the quality of the program. The other reason behind this acclaim is that a developing country like India was able to pull of this monumental feat by making the mission a success on its first attempt whereas others have not been able to achieve this owing to the difficult in reaching Mars.
The most important component of the vessel is an unmanned robotic satellite which weighs around 1,350 kilograms and is roughly the size of the Tata Nano car. Now this satellite has a very important objective and that is to map the entire planet for traces of methane. Why methane? Methane is an indicator of the existence of life on the planet. This feat will be achieved with the help of the Mars Colour Camera which would be used for capturing the images and gathering the required information about the surface features of Mars. By using this data, it would also be possible to identify the composition of the planet and this will give valuable insight into the possibilities of existence of life on Mars.
In terms of the technological aspect of this mission, the entire program reflects the outstanding capabilities of scientists at ISRO and their efforts had enabled the spacecraft to make the 680 million kilometres journey in less than a year. This is no ordinary feat and when travelling to a distant planet like Mars (and in turn getting closer to the Sun), the possibilities of damages and risks increase. So you can understand the joy that every person in the program must have felt when this mission was designated as a successful venture on the first attempt itself.
Mangalyaan successfully achieved its elliptical orbit which spanned 423 km X 80,000 km around Mars. It was at 0810 hours today that Mangalyaan was confirmed to have achieved orbital insertion with the engine delivering a thrust of 1098 metres/second during its 24-minute burst. The celebrations on the occasion of this massive achievement was a sight to be seen at Mission Control.
The total cost of the mission was Rs. 450 crores or about USD 74 million. This is inclusive of the cost of the satellite (valued at Rs. 153 crores / USD 25 million) and the cost of studies related to the orbiter (valued at Rs. 125 crores / USD 21 million). India has been known for its “Jugaad” approach where it is actually able to make optimum utilization of the available resources for deriving maximum benefits. It is clear that this tendency of the Indians led them to successfully implement the Mangalyaan mission even if the budget was not as extravagant as other missions.
On the occasion of the success of Mangalyaan, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said “We have gone beyond the boundaries of human enterprise and innovation. If our national cricket team wins a tournament the whole country celebrates. What our scientists have done is far greater.” This space mission has not only brought India into the league of countries who have managed to reach Mars, but it has also achieved the acclaim of being the only country to achieve success in the first attempt. According to statistics, the success rate for a Mars mission is only 42%. This alone indicates the capabilities of Indian scientists and engineers.
Mangalyaan may be a big achievement, but in reality it was a probe to test the capabilities of ISRO to pull of interplanetary missions. ISRO has more ambitious missions planned for future endeavours which includes sending a Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III (GSLV Mark III) which is the heaviest rocket in its arsenal weighing at about 630 tonnes. With some of the most brilliant minds working for it, ISRO could well be on its way to achieve fame as the premier space research organization in the world.
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