Dheeraj asked Rohan if he had finalised the topic for the science project. Rohan said yes he had and asked Dheeraj to guess the topic. Rohan gave him a hint that his project was related to both technology and space and also depicted how far India had come in research and innovation.  Dheeraj made a few guesses and then said “I give up. You tell me what it is.” Rohan said he was going to make a project on Mangalyaan, to which Dheeraj said “Wow that’s cool.” So do you also want to know a little about the Mangalyaan?

Mangalyaan or the Mars Orbiter Mission (which is the official name of the craft) is a satellite that is the size of a small car. This satellite has been designed by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) to enter the orbit of planet Mars.

Orbit is the regular and repeating path planets or satellites follow to go around another object in space. Planets follow an imaginary elliptical path to go around the Sun while satellites (natural or manmade) go around the planets.

The Mangalyaan will enter Mars’ orbit and then go around it to collect valuable data.

By Nesnad (Own work) [GFDL (https://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Nesnad (Own work) [GFDL (https://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

As we all might know “Mangal” is the name for planet Mars in Hindi and “yaan” stands for a vehicle; thus Mangalyaan literally means a vehicle for Mars. MOM completed its first year orbiting the red planet on 24th September 2015.   The mission is 100 per successful as per ISRO and it completed 120 orbits around the Mars since it began its journey in the planet’s orbit.  Though the research for a mission to Mars by ISRO had been going on for years the project was approved in August 2012. 

MOM completed the 200 million kilometre journey to Mars in about 300 days which also included about 20-25 days it spent in Earth’s orbit to prepare for breaking free from Earth’s gravitational pull and leave Earth’s orbit.

ISRO became the fourth agency in the world to reach Mars. India is the first Asian country that has done this and the only one in the world that has been able to reach Mars in the first attempt. Out of 51 missions so far only 21 missions to Mars have succeeded. The cost of India’s mission to Mars is a fraction of the cost incurred by other nations on similar missions. India spent Rs. 454 crores on this mission compared to close to Rs. 4000 crore spent by NASA which is the space agency of USA.

A lot of people question spending so much money (though much lesser than what other countries spent) on this mission while the country is faced with so many ground level challenges. What will the Mangalyaan actually do once it is in place? What information will we get about our neighbouring planet Mars and will it be useful?

The Mangalyaan has five scientific instruments on the probe. It will collect a lot of data which will be analysed to gain a better understanding not only about Mars but also about space in general. Apart from this a visit to space sounds exciting whether it’s in a movie or reality. It also signals India development in areas of science and technology.

The satellite has been fitted with solar powered imagers that will photograph the surface of the planet Mars. These images will then be analysed to study the soil on Mars. The images of the surface will help in determining if the planet ever had water or if there are still traces of water on the planet. It is generally believed that there are large ice reserves on Mars but there are no water bodies. If water is found on Mars then it will be the only planet in the universe apart from Earth that is known to have water.

Some stunning pictures sent by the Mars Colour Camera (MCC) on-board India’s Mars Orbiter Spacecraft.

Apart from the soil and surface, study will also be done about the atmosphere of Mars. Instruments attached to the satellite will try to detect the presence of various gases to determine if life and water ever existed/exist on Mars. There is a special sensor that will study the presence and source of methane gas on Mars. Another study to be carried out focuses on finding out about the effect of solar radiation on the surface and atmosphere of Mars.

Another important aspect of this mission is to study about the technique involved in sending a space craft to inter planetary spatial area. This will help in future missions to Mars and hopefully other planets too. Though India has had successful missions to Moon, this is different as it is the first inter planetary mission. The information received will help in developing deep space communication, planning future missions and navigation.

Rohan said do you know Dheeraj Mangalyaan was greeted by Curiosity Rover (NASA’s satellite) on Mars on its arrival there. Curiosity Rover’s twitter account sent a message “Namaste, @MarsOrbiter! Congratulations @ ISRO………..”

ISRO replied “Howdy @ MarsCuriosity? Keep in touch. I’ll be around”.

There is a lot more about Mangalyaan that Rohan will include in his project; this is just a small excerpt.

Read this in Hindi

Mangalyaan or Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM): India says “hello” to Mars
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